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"The cry of hosts [we] humour 
Ah ! slowly, toward the light." 



THE circumstances attending the composition and 
publication of the present work have thrown upon 
me the duty of furnishing it with a preface explaining 
its object and scope. 

Briefly, the purpose of the author has been to 
collect into a Book of Malay Folklore all that seemed 
to him most typical of the subject amongst a con- 
siderable mass of materials, some of which lay 
scattered in the pages of various other works, others 
in unpublished native manuscripts, and much in notes 
made by him personally of what he had observed 
during several years spent in the Ma*lay Peninsula, 
principally in the State of Selangor. The book does 
not profess to be an exhaustive or complete treatise, 
but rather, as its title indicates, an introduction to the 
study of Folklore, Popular Religion, and Magic as 
understood among the Malays of the Peninsula. 

It should be superfluous, at this time of day, to 
defend such studies as these from the criticisms which 
have from time to time been brought against them. 
I remember my old friend and former teacher, Wan 


'Abdullah, a Singapore Malay of Trengganu extrac- 
tion and Arab descent, a devout and learned Muham- 
madan and a most charming man, objecting to them 
on the grounds, first, that they were useless, and, 
secondly, which, as he emphatically declared, was far 
worse, that they were perilous to the soul's health. 
This , last is a point of view which it would hardly 
be appropriate or profitable to discuss here, but a 
few words may as well be devoted to the other objec- 
tion. It is based, sometimes, on the ground that 
these studies deal not with "facts," but with mere 
nonsensical fancies and beliefs. Now, for facts we 
all, of course, have the greatest respect ; but the 
objection appears to me to involve an unwarrantable 
restriction of the meaning of the word : a belief which 
is actually held, even a mere fancy that is entertained 
in the mind, has a real existence, and is a fact just as 
much as any other. As a piece of psychology it 
must always have a certain interest, and it may on 
occasions become of enormous practical importance. 
If, for instance, in 1857 certain persons, whose con- 
cern it was, had paid more attention to facts of this 
kind, possibly the Indian Mutiny could have been 
prevented, and probably it might have been foreseen, 
so that precautionary measures could have been taken 
in time to minimise the extent of the catastrophe. 
It is not suggested that the matters dealt with in this 
book are ever likely to involve such serious issues ; 
but, speaking generally, there can be no doubt 


that an understanding of the ideas and modes of 
thought of an alien people in a relatively low stage 
of civilisation facilitates very considerably the task 
of governing them ; and in the Malay Peninsula 
that task has now devolved mainly upon English- 
men. Moreover, every notion of utility implies an 
end to which it is to be referred, and there are other 
ends in life worth considering as well as those to 
which the "practical man" is pleased to restrict 
himself. When one passes from the practical to 
the speculative point of view, it is almost impos- 
sible to predict what piece of knowledge will be 
fruitful of results, and what will not ; prima facie, 
therefore, all knowledge has a claim to be con- 
sidered of importance from a scientific point of view, 
and until everything is known, nothing can safely 
be rejected as worthless. 

Another and more serious objection, aimed rather 
at the method of such investigations as these, is 
that the evidence with which they have to be con- 
tent is worth little or nothing. Objectors attempt 
to discredit it by implying that at best it is only what 
A. says that B. told him about the beliefs B. says he 
holds, in other words, that it is the merest hearsay ; 
and it is also sometimes suggested that when A. 
is a European and B. a savage, or at most a semi- 
civilised person of another breed, the chances are 
that B. will lie about his alleged beliefs, or that 
A. will unconsciously read his own ideas into B.'s 


confused statements, or that, at any rate, one way or 
another, they are sure to misunderstand each other, 
and accordingly the record cannot be a faithful one. 

So far as this objection can have any applica- 
tion to the present work, it may fairly be replied : 
first that the author has been at some pains to 
corroborate and illustrate his own accounts by the 
independent observations of others (and this must 
be his justification for the copiousness of his quota- 
tions from other writers) ; and, secondly, that he has, 
whenever possible, given us what is really the best 
kind of evidence for his own statements by record- 
ing the charms and other magic formulae which are 
actually in use. Of these a great number has been 
here collected, and in the translation of such of the 
more interesting ones as are quoted in the text of 
the book, every effort has been made to keep to 
literal accuracy of rendering. The originals will be 
found in the Appendix, and it must be left to those 
who can read Malay to check the author's versions, 
and to draw from the untranslated portions such 
inferences as may seem to them good. 

The author himself has no preconceived thesis 
to maintain : his object has been collection rather 
than comparison, and quite apart from the neces- 
sary limitations of space and time, his method has 
confined the book within fairly well-defined bounds. 
Though the subject is one which would naturally 
lend itself to a comparative treatment, and though 


the comparison of Malay folklore with that of other 
nations (more particularly of India, Arabia, and the 
mainland of Indo-China) would no doubt lead to 
very interesting results, the scope of the work has 
as far as possible been restricted to the folklore of 
the Malays of the Peninsula. Accordingly the ana- 
logous and often quite similar customs and ideas of 
the Malayan races of the Eastern Archipelago have 
been only occasionally referred to, while those of 
the Chinese and other non- Malayan inhabitants of 
the Peninsula have been excluded altogether. 

Moreover, several important departments of cus- 
tom and social life have been, no doubt designedly, 
omitted : thus, to mention only one subject out of 
several that will probably occur to the reader, the 
modes of organisation of the Family and the Clan 
(which in certain Malay communities present archaic 
features of no common interest), together with the 
derivative notions affecting the tenure and inherit- 
ance of property, have found no place in this work. 
The field, in fact, is very wide and cannot all be 
worked at once. The folklore of uncivilised races 
may fairly enough be said to embrace every phase 
of nature and every department of life : it may be 
regarded as containing, in the germ and as yet un- 
differentiated, the notions from which Religion, Law, 
Medicine, Philosophy, Natural Science, and Social 
Customs are eventually evolved. Its bulk and rela- 
tive importance seem to vary inversely with the 


advance of a race in the progress towards civilisa- 
tion ; and the ideas of savages on these matters 
appear to constitute in some cases a great and 
complex system, of which comparatively few traces 
only are left among the more civilised peoples. 
The Malay race, while far removed from the savage 
condition, has not as yet reached a very high stage 
of civilisation, and still retains relatively large rem- 
nants of this primitive order of ideas. It is true 
that Malay notions on these subjects are under- 
going a process of disintegration, the rapidity of 
which has been considerably increased by contact 
with European civilisation, but, such as they are, 
these ideas still form a great factor in the life of the 
mass of the people. 

It may, however, be desirable to point out that 
the complexity of Malay folklore is to be attributed 
in part to its singularly mixed character. The 
development of the race from savagery and bar- 
barism up to its present condition of comparative 
civilisation has been modified and determined, first 
and most deeply by Indian, and during the last 
five centuries or so by Arabian influences. Just 
as in the language of the Malays it is possible by 
analysis to pick out words of Sanskrit and Arabic 
origin from amongst the main body of genuinely 
native words, so in their folklore one finds Hindu, 
Buddhist, and Muhammadan ideas overlying a mass 
of apparently original Malay notions. 


These various elements of their folklore are, how- 
ever, now so thoroughly mixed up together that it 
is often almost impossible to disentangle them. No 
systematic attempt has been made to do so in this 
book, although here and there an indication of the 
origin of some particular myth will be found ; but 
a complete analysis (if possible at all) would have 
necessitated, as a preliminary investigation, a much 
deeper study of Hindu and Muhammadan mythology 
than it has been found practicable to engage in. 

In order, however, to give a clear notion of the 
relation which the beliefs and practices that are here 
recorded bear to the official religion of the people, 
it is necessary to state that the Malays of the Penin- 
sula are Sunni Muhammadans of the school of Shafi'i, 
and that nothing, theoretically speaking, could be 
more correct and orthodox (from the point of view 
of Islam) than the belief which they profess. 

But the beliefs which they actually hold are 
another matter altogether, and it must be admitted 
that the Muhammadan veneer which covers their 
ancient superstitions is very often of the thinnest 
description. The inconsistency in which this in- 
volves them is not, however, as a rule realised by 
themselves. Beginning their invocations with the 
orthodox preface : "In the name of God, tJie merciful, 
the compassionate" and ending them with an appeal 
to the Creed : " There is no god but God, and Mu- 
hammad is the Apostle of God" they are conscious 


of no impropriety in addressing the intervening 
matter to a string of Hindu Divinities, Demons, 
Ghosts, and Nature Spirits, with a few Angels and 
Prophets thrown in, as the occasion may seem to 
require. Still, the more highly educated Malays, 
especially those who live in the towns and come into 
direct contact with Arab teachers of religion, are 
disposed to object strongly to these " relics of pagan- 
ism " ; and there can be no doubt that the increasing 
diffusion of general education in the Peninsula is 
contributing to the growth of a stricter conception 
of Islam, which will involve the gradual suppression 
of such of these old-world superstitions as are ob- 
viously of an "unorthodox" character. 

This process, however, will take several genera- 
tions to accomplish, and in the meantime it is to be 
hoped that a complete record will have been made 
both of what is doomed sooner or later to perish, 
and of what in all likelihood will survive under the 
new conditions of our time. It is as a contribution 
to such a record, and as a collection of materials 
to serve as a sound basis for further additions and 
comparisons, that this work is offered to the reader. 

A list of the principal authorities referred to will 
be found in another place, but it would be improper 
to omit here the acknowledgments which are due 
to the various authors of whose work in this field 
such wide use has been made. Among the dead 
special mention must be made of Marsden, who will 


always be for Englishmen the pioneer of Malay 
studies ; Leyden, the gifted translator of the Se- 
jarah Malayu, whose early death probably inflicted 
on Oriental scholarship the greatest loss it has ever 
had to suffer ; Newbold, the author of what is still, 
on the whole, the best work on the Malay Peninsula ; 
and Sir William Maxwell, in whom those of us who 
knew him have lost a friend, and Malay scholarship 
a thoroughly sound and most brilliant exponent. 

Among the living, the acknowledgments of the 
author are due principally to Sir Frank Swetten- 
ham and Mr. Hugh Clifford, who, while they have 
done much to popularise the knowledge of things 
Malay amongst the general reading public, have 
also embodied in their works the results of much 
careful and accurate observation. The free use 
which has beey made of the writings of these and 
other authors will, it is hoped, be held to be justified 
by their intrinsic value. 

It must be added that the author, having to leave 
England about the beginning of this year with the 
Cambridge scientific expedition which is now explor- 
ing the Northern States of the Peninsula, left the 
work with me for revision. The first five Chapters 
and Chapter VI., up to the end of the section on 
Dances, Sports, and Games, were then already in 
the printer's hands, but only the first 100 pages or 
so had had the benefit of the autho/s revision. For 
the arrangement of the rest of Chapter VI., and for 


some small portion of the matter therein contained, 
I am responsible, and it has also been my duty to 
revise the whole book finally. Accordingly, it is 
only fair to the author to point out that he is to be 
credited with the matter and the general scheme of 
the work, while the responsibility for defects in detail 
must fall upon myself. 

As regards the spelling of Malay words, it must 
be said that geographical names have been spelled 
in the way which is now usually adopted and without 
diacritical marks : the names of the principal Native 
States of the Peninsula (most of which are repeatedly 
mentioned in the book) are Kedah, Perak, Selangor, 
Johor, Pahang, Trengganu, Kelantan, and Patani. 
Otherwise, except in quotations (where the spelling 
of the original is preserved), an attempt has been 
made to transliterate the Malay words found in the 
body of the book in such a way as to give the 
ordinary reader a fairly correct idea of their pro- 
nunciation. The Appendix, which appeals only to 
persons who already know Malay, has been some- 
what differently treated, diacritical marks being in- 
serted only in cases where there was a possible 
ambiguity, and the spelling of the original MSS. 
being changed as little as possible. 

A perfect transliteration, or one that will suit 
everybody, is, however, an unattainable ideal, and 
the most that can be done in that direction is neces- 
sarily a compromise. In the system adopted in the 

rREFACE xvii 

body of the work, the vowels are to be sounded 
(roughly speaking) as in Italian, except e (which 
resembles the French e in que, le, and the like), and 
the consonants as in English (but ng as in singer, 
not finger ; g as in go ; ny as ni in onion ; ch as in 
church ; final k and initial h almost inaudible). The 
symbol ' represents the Arabic 'ain, and the symbol ' 
is used (i) between consonants, to indicate the pres- 
ence of an almost inaudible vowel, the shortest form 
of <?, and elsewhere (2) for the kamzah, and (3) for 
the apostrophe, i.e. to denote the suppression of a 
letter or syllable. Both the 'ain and the hamzah 
may be neglected in pronunciation, as indeed they 
are very generally disregarded by the Malays them- 
selves. In this and other respects, Arabic scholars 
into whose hands this book may fall must not be 
surprised to find that Arabic words and phrases 
suffer some corruptions in a Malay context. These 
have not, as a rule, been interfered with or cor- 
rected, although it has not been thought worth 
while to preserve obvious blunders of spelling in 
well-known Arabic formula;. It should be added 
that in Malay the accent or stress, which is less 
marked than in English, falls almost invariably on 
the penultimate syllable of the word. Exceptions to 
this rule hardly ever occur except in the few cases 
where the penultimate is an open syllable with a short 
vowel, as indicated by the sign w . 

The illustrations are reproduced from photographs 


xviii PREFACE 

of models and original objects made by Malays ; 
most of these models and other objects are now 
in the Cambridge Archaeological and Ethnological 
Museum, to which they were presented by the author. 
The Index, for the compilation of which I am 
indebted to my wife, who has also given me much 
assistance in the revision of the proof-sheets, will, it is 
believed, add greatly to the usefulness of the work as 
a book of reference. 


WOKING, -2.%th August 1899. 


NATURE, pp. 1-15 





(a) CREATION OF MAN . .16 

(/;) SANCTITY OF THE BODY . . . -23 

(c) THE SOUL . . . . . . -47 




(a) THE MAGICIAN . . . . . 5 6 

(b) HIGH PLACES . . . . . .61 

(c) NATURE OF RITES . . . . 71 





(a) GODS ....... 83 



OF NATURE, pp. 107-319 











(d) FIRE i. PRODUCTION OF FIRE . . . .317 

2. FIRE CHARMS . . . . .318 


1. BIRTH-SPIRITS ...... 320 

2. BIRTH CEREMONIES ..... 332 

3. ADOLESCENCE . . . .352 




5. BETROTHAL ... . 364 

6. MARRIAGE. ...... 3 68 

7. FUNERALS. .... . 397 

8. MEDICINE .... . 408 

9. DANCES, SPORTS, AND GAMES . . . .457 


11. WAR AND WEAPONS . . . .522 


APPENDIX ... .581 



INDEX . ..... 677 






4. MAIN GALAH PANJANG ..... 500 







2. SPIRITS ....... 94 


4. PIGEON DECOY HUT . . . . 133 

5. RICE-SOUL BASKETS ..... 244 



9- ... 366 

10. CURTAIN FRINGE . . 372 






2. PILLOW-ENDS . . / 

13. WEDDING PROCESSION . . . .381 

14. POKO' SIRIH ...... 382 


1 6. BOMOR AT WORK . . . /. 410 

17. ANCHAK .... .414 

1 8. GAMBOR . . . 464 

19. PEDIKIR . . 466 


2. DEMON MASK . / 


22. KUDA SEMBRANI . 5 J 4 

23. FIG. i. HANUMAN . \ 6 



2. DIAGRAM . ] 

25. DIAGRAMS . -555 

26. -558 

27. 56i 

28. FIG. i. WAX FIGURES . \ , 



(a) Creation of the World 

THE theory of the Creation most usually held by 
Peninsular Malays is summarised in the following 
passage, quoted (in 1839) by Lieutenant Newbold 
from a Malay folk-tale : 

" From the Supreme Being first emanated light 
towards chaos ; this light, diffusing itself, became the 
vast ocean. From the bosom of the waters thick 
vapour and foam ascended. The earth and sea were 
then formed, each of seven tiers. The earth rested on 
the surface of the water from east to west. God, in 
order to render steadfast the foundations of the world, 
which vibrated tremulously with the motion of the 
watery expanse, girt it round with an adamantine 
chain, viz. the stupendous mountains of Caucasus, the 
wondrous regions of genii and aerial spirits. Beyond 
these limits is spread out a vast plain, the sand and 
earth of which are of gold and musk, the stones 
rubies and emeralds, the vegetation of odoriferous 

" From the range of Caucasus all the mountains of 



the earth have their origin as pillars to support and 
strengthen the terrestrial framework." 

The Mountains of Caucasus are usually called by 
Malays Bukit Kof (i.e. Kaf), or the Mountains of Kaf 
(which latter is their Arabic name). These mountains are 
not unfrequently referred to in Malay charms, e.g. in in- 
vocations addressed to the Rice-Spirit. The Mountains 
of Kaf are to the Malays a great range which serves 
as a " wall " (dinding) to the earth, and keeps off both 
excessive winds and beasts of prey. This wall, how- 
ever, is being bored through by people called Yajuj 
and Majuj (Gog and Magog), and when they succeed 
in their task the end of all things will come. Besides 
these mountains which surround the earth there is a 
great central mountain called Mahameru (Saguntang 
Maha Biru, or merely Saguntang-guntang). 2 In 
many Malay stories this hill Mahameru is identified 
with Saguntang-guntang on the borders of Palembang 
in Sumatra. 

The account which I shall now give, however, 
differs considerably from the preceding. It was taken 
down by me from an introduction to a Malay charm- 
book belonging to a magician (one 'Abdul Razzak of 
Klang in Selangor), with whom I was acquainted, but 
who, though he allowed me to copy it, would not allow 
me either to buy or borrow the book : 3 

" In the days when Haze bore Darkness, and 
Darkness Haze, when the Lord of the Outer Silence 
Himself was yet in the womb of Creation, before the 
existence of the names of Earth and Heaven, of God 
and Muhammad, of the Empyrean and Crystalline 

1 Newbold, British Settlements in 2 Vide Vishnu Ptirana, vol. ii. p. 

the Straits of Malacca, vol. ii. pp. 360, 109 ; trans, by Wilson. 
361. 3 The full Malay text of this intro- 

duction will be found in the Appendix. 


spheres, or of Space and Void, the Creator of the 
entire Universe pre-existed by Himself, and He was 
the Eldest Magician. He created the Earth of the 
width of a tray and the Heavens of the width r of an 
umbrella, which are the universe of the Magician. 
Now from before the beginning of time existed that 
Magician that is, God and He made Himself mani- 
fest with the brightness of the moon and the sun, 
which is the token of the True Magician." 

The account proceeds to describe how God 
" created the pillar of the Ka'bah, 1 which is the Navel 
of the Earth, whose growth is comparable to a Tree, 
. . . whose branches are four in number, and are 
called, the first, ' Sajeratul Mentahar,' and the second 
' Taubi,' and the third, ' Khaldi,' and the fourth 'Nasrun 
'Alam,' which extend unto the north, south, east, and 
west, where they are called the Four Corners of the 

Next we read that the word of God Almighty came 
in secret to Gabriel, saying, " Take me down the iron 
staff of the ' Creed ' which dangles at the gate of 
heaven, and kill me this serpent Sakatimuna." ' 
Gabriel did so, and the serpent brake asunder, the 
head and forepart shooting up above the heavens, and 
the tail part penetrating downwards beneath the earth. 3 
The rest of the account is taken up with a description, 
that need not here be repeated, of the transformation 
of all the various parts of the serpent's anatomy, which 

1 Lit. "A cube." The cube-like of the 1 2th century. Newbold, op. cit. 
building in the centre of the Mosque vol. ii. p. 199 n. It is also given as 
at Makkah (Mecca), which contains " Icktimani " by Leyden in his trans, 
the Hajaru 'l-Aswad, or black stone. of the Malay Annals. 

Hughes, Diet, of Islam, s.v. Ka'bah. 3 For the parting asunder of the 

2 Sakatimuna (or " Sicatimuna") is snake, vide the note on page n infra, 
the name of an enormous serpent, said which gives what may be the origin of 
to have ravaged the country of Menang- this myth as it is known to the Malays, 
kabau in Sumatra about the beginning 


are represented as turning with a few exceptions into 
good and evil genii. 

The most curious feature of the description is 
perhaps the marked anthropomorphic character of 
this serpent, which shows it to be a serpent in little 
more than name. It seems, in fact, very probable that 
we have here a reminiscence of the Indian "Naga." 1 
Thus we find the rainbow (here divided into its com- 
ponent parts) described as originating from the serpent's 
sword with its hilt and cross-piece (guard), grass from 
the hair of its body, trees from the hair of its head, 
rain from its tears, and dew from its sweat. 

Another account, also obtained from a local magi- 
cian, contains one or two additional details about the 
tree. " Kim" said God, " Pay ah* kun" said Muham- 
mad, and a seed was created. 

" The seed became a root (lit. sinew), the root a 
tree, and the tree brought forth leaves. 

" l Kun, } said God, l Pay ah kun? said Muhammad ; 
. . . Then were Heaven and Earth (created), ' Earth 
of the width of a tray, Heaven of the width of an 

This is a curious passage, and one not over-easy to 

1 The Nagas are generally repre- its folded arms. The pattern of these 
sented in old sculptures as bearing the hilts, which are universally used for the 
human form, but with a snake attached national Malay Kris or dagger, varies 
to their backs, and the hooded head from an accurate representation of the 
rising behind their necks. Naga- human figure to forms in which nothing 
nanda, translated by Palmer Boyd, but the hood (which is occasionally much 
p. 6 1 ; vide also ib. p. 84. This exaggerated) is recognisable. Euro- 
may be the explanation of the Malay peans seeing these hilts for the first 
Kris hilt, or dagger hilt, which repre- time sometimes take them for snakes' 
sents a seated human form with folded heads, sometimes for the heads of birds, 
arms and a hood at the back of its 2 Payah probably stands for supaya, 
neck rising over its head. These perhaps with the meaning " so also." 
hilts are called hulu Malayu (the Kun in Arabic means "be." The 
"Malay hilt"), or Jawa demam (lit. tree would appear to be identifiable 
the "Fever-stricken Javanese"), in allu- (vide App. i., iii.) with that mentioned 
sion to the attitude of the figure with in the first account. 


explain ; such evidence as may be drawn from analogy 
suggests, however, that the " Earth of the width of a 
tray, and Heaven of the width of an umbrella," may 
be intended to represent respectively the "souls" 
(semangat) of heaven and earth, in which case they 
would bear the same relation to the material heaven 
and earth as the man-shaped human soul does to the 
body of a man. 

(b) Natural Phenomena 

"Most Malays," says Newbold, "with whom I 
have conversed on the subject, imagine that the world 
is of an oval shape, revolving upon its own axis four 
times in the space of one year ; that the sun is a circular 
body of fire moving round the earth, and producing 
the alternations of night and day." 

To this I would add that some Malays, at 
least, whom I questioned on the subject (as well as 
some Sakais 1 under Malay influence), imagined the 
firmament to consist of a sort of stone or rock which 
they called Batu hampar, or " Bed rock," the appear- 
ance of stars being caused (as they supposed) by the 
light which streams through its perforations. 

A further development of the Malay theory of the 
earth declares it to be carried by a colossal buffalo 
upon the tip of its horns. 2 When one horn begins to 
tire the buffalo tosses it up and catches it upon the tip 
of the other, thus causing periodical earthquakes. 

1 Sakais are certain of the non- largely influenced some departments of 
Malayan heathen (i.e. not Muham- Malay folk-lore, it is an elephant which 
madan) inhabitants of the hills and supports the earth. So, too, Vishnu in 
jungles of the Peninsula. the boar-incarnation raised the earth 

2 Some say a bullock (tfmbu), from the bottom of the sea upon his 
but the most usual version gives the tusks. 

buffalo. In the Ramayana, which has 



This world-buffalo, it should be added, stands upon 
an island in the midst of the nether ocean. 1 The 
universe is girt round by an immense serpent or 
dragon (Ular Naga), which " feeds upon its own tail." 

The Malay theory of the tides is concisely stated 
by Newbold : 2 - 

"Some Malays ascribe the tides to the influence 
of the sun ; others to some unknown current of the 
ocean ; but the generality believe confidently the 
following, which is a mere skeleton of the original 
legend. In the middle of the great ocean grows an 
immense tree, called Pauh Jangi, 3 at the root of 

1 This island (for which a tortoise or 
the fish " Nun " is occasionally substi- 
tuted) may be compared with the Batak 
(Sumatran) belief concerning the raft 
which was made by Batara Guru for 
the support of the earth at the creation 
of the world (/. R. A. S., N. S. 
vol. xiii. part i. p. 60) ; and vide 
Klinkert's Malay - Dutch Diet., s.v, 

2 Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 359. 
The spelling of " Jangi " is incorrect. It 
should be spelt " Janggi." 

3 This tree appears to be a tradition 
of the Cocos Maldiva, of which Sir H. 
Yule, s.v. Coco-de-Mer, gives the fol- 
lowing interesting account : 

" Coco-de-Mer, or Double Coco-nut, 
the curious twin fruit so called, the 
produce of the Lodoicea Sechellarum, 
a palm growing only in the Seychelles 
Islands, is cast up on the shores of the 
Indian Ocean, most frequently on the 
Maldive Islands, but occasionally also 
on Ceylon and S. India, and on the 
coasts of Zanzibar, of Sumatra, and 
some others of the Malay Islands. 
Great virtues as medicine and antidote 
were supposed to reside in these fruits, 
and extravagant prices were paid for 
them. The story goes that a ' country 
captain,' expecting to make his fortune, 
took a cargo of these nuts from the 
Seychelles Islands to Calcutta, but the 
only result was to destroy their value 
for the future. 

"The old belief was that the fruit was 
produced on a palm growing below the 
sea, whose fronds, according to Malay 
seamen, were sometimes seen in quiet 
bights on the Sumatran coast, especially 
in the Lampong Bay. According to 
one form of the story among the Malays, 
which is told both by Pigafetta and by 
Rumphius, there was but one such tree, 
the fronds of which rose above an 
abyss of the Southern Ocean, and were 
the abode of the monstrous bird Garuda 
(or Rukh of the Arabs). The tree 
itself was called Pau-scngi, which 
Rumphius seems to interpret as a 
corruption of Bzrwa-zangi, ' Fruit of 
Zang,' or E. Africa. They were cast 
up occasionally on the islands of the 
S. W. coast of Sumatra ; and the 
wild people of the islands brought 
them for sale to the Sumatran marts, 
such as Padang and Priamang. One 
of the largest (say about twelve inches 
across) would sell for 150 rix dollars. 
But the Malay princes coveted them 
greatly, and would sometimes (it was 
alleged) give a laden junk for a single 
nut. In India the best-known source 
of supply was from the Maldive 

"The medical virtues of the nut were 
not only famous among all the people 
of the East, including the Chinese, but 
are extolled by Piso and by Rumphius, 
with many details. The latter, learned 
and laborious student of nature as he 


which is a cavern called Pusat Tassek, or navel of 
the lake. This is inhabited by a vast crab, who goes 
forth at stated periods during the day. When the 
creature returns to its abode the displaced water 
causes the flow of the tide ; when he departs, the water 
rushing into the cavern causes the ebb." 

Mr. Clifford gives a slightly different expla- 
nation : 

" The Pusat tasek, or Navel of the Seas, supposed 
to be a huge hole in the ocean bottom. In this hole 
there sits a gigantic crab which twice a day gets out 
in order to search for food. While he is sitting in the 
hole the waters of the ocean are unable to pour down 
into the under world, the whole of the aperture being 
filled and blocked by the crab's bulk. The inflowing 
of the rivers into the sea during these periods are 
supposed to cause the rising of the tide, while the 
downpouring of the waters through the great hole 
when the crab is absent searching for food is supposed 
to cause the ebb." 

Concerning the wonderful legendary tree (the 

was, believed in the submarine origin or " Pauh," which is perfectly good 
of the nut, though he discredited its Malay, and is the name given to 
growing on a great palm, as no traces various species of mango, especially 
of such a plant had ever been discovered the wild one, so that " Pau-sengi " 
on the coasts. The fame of the nut's actually represents (not "Buwa," 
virtues had extended to Europe, and but) " Pauh Janggi," which is to this 
the Emperor Rudolf II. in his latter day the universal Malay name for the 
days offered in vain 4000 florins to tree which grows, according to Malay 
purchase from the family of Wolfert fable, in the central whirlpool or 
Hermanszen, a Dutch Admiral, one Navel of the Seas. Some versions add 
which had been presented to that com- that it grows upon a sunken bank 
mander by the King of Bantam, on (tubing runtok), and is guarded by 
the Hollander's relieving his capital, dragons. This tree figures largely in 
attacked by the Portuguese in 1602." Malay romances, especially those which 
Hobson-Jobson, loc. cit. form the subject of Malay shadow- 
To this valuable note I would add plays, (vide infra, PI. 23, for anillustra- 
that Rumphius is evidently wrong if he tion of the Pauh Janggi and the Crab), 
derives the name of the tree, " Pau- Rumphius' explanation of the second 
sengi," from the Malay " Buwa-zangi." part of the name (i.e. Janggi) is, no 
The first part of the word is " Pau " doubt, quite correct. 


Pauh Janggi) the following story was related to me 
by a Selangor Malay : 

"There was once a Selangor man named Haji 
Batu, or the Petrified Pilgrim, who got this name 
from the fact that the first joints of all the fingers of 
one hand had been turned into stone. This happened 
in the following manner. In the old days when men 
went voyaging in sailing vessels, he determined to 
visit Mecca, and accordingly set sail. After sailing 
for about two months they drifted out of their course 
for some ten or fifteen days, and then came to a part 
of the sea where there were floating trunks of trees, 
together with rice-straw (batang padi] and all manner 
of flotsam. Yet again they drifted for seven days, 
and upon the seventh night Haji Batu dreamed a 
dream. In this dream one who wore the pilgrim's 
garb appeared to him, and warned him to carry on 
his person a hammer and seven nails, and when he 
came to a tree which would be the Pauh Janggi he 
was to drive the first of the nails into its stem and cling 
thereto. Next day the ship reached the great whirl- 
pool which is called the Navel of the Seas, 1 and while 

1 The following passage describes and dashed him against the sea bottom 

how a magic prince visited the Navel with such force that his head was 

of the Seas : buried in the ground, but the little 

" Presently he arrived at his destina- dragon cared not at all. Then the 

tion the Navel of the Seas (Pusat Raja Naga said : ' Tell me the truth ! 

taseK). All the monsters of the ocean, from what land hast thou fallen (titek 

the whales and monster fishes, and col- deri pada n/gri ninggua mand), and 

ossal dragons (naga umbang), and the whose son and offspring art thou ? ' 

magic dragons (naga sri naga ka-sak- To which the Golden Dragon made 

tian), assembled together to eat and answer, saying, ' I have no land nor 

devour him, and such a tumult arose country, I have neither father nor 

that the Raja Naga, who was superior mother, but I was incarnated from the 

to all, heard it and came to see. Now hollow part of a bamboo ! ' When the 

when he beheld the Golden Dragon Raja Naga heard this he sent for his 

he opened his jaws to their full extent, spectacles (cA/rmzn mata), and by their 

and made three attempts to seize and aid he was able to see the real parentage 

swallow him, but failed each time. of the Golden Dragon and all con- 

At length, however, he caught him, cerning him, and he at once told him 


the ship was being sucked into the eddy close to the 
tree and engulfed, Haji Batu managed to drive the 
first nail home, and clung to it as the ship went down. 
After a brief interval he endeavoured to drive in the 
second nail, somewhat higher up the stem than the 
first (why Haji Batu could not climb without the aid 
of nails history does not relate), and drawing himself 
up by it, drove in the third. Thus progressing, by the 
time he had driven in all the seven nails he had 
reached the top of the tree, when he discovered among 
the branches a nest of young rocs. Here he rested, 
and having again been advised in a dream, he waited. 
On the following day, when the parent roc had returned 
and was engaged in feeding its young with an elephant 
which it had brought for the purpose, he bound himself 
to its feathers with his girdle, and was carried in this 
manner many hundreds of miles to the westward, 
where, upon the roc's nearing the ground, he let 
himself go, and thus dropping to the earth, fell into 
a swoon. On recovering consciousness he walked 
on till he came to a house, where he asked for and 
obtained some refreshment. On his departure he 
was advised to go westward, and so proceeded for a 
long distance until he arrived at a beautifully clear 
pool in an open plain, around which were to be seen 
many stone figures of human beings. The appearance 
of these stone figures rendering him suspicious, he 

everything concerning his birth (usul place, since he was very old. Thus the 

asal ka-jadt-an-nya), and informed him Golden Dragon continued to live in 

that they were close relations, since the increasing state and prosperity at the 

Golden Dragon's mother was a relative Pusat tasek, and was greatly beloved 

of the Raja Naga. Then the Raja by his uncle, the Raja Naga ; and in 

Naga kissed and embraced his nephew, the course of time his horn (chula) split 

and congratulated himself on having up and was replaced by six other heads 

seen him before his time came to die, making seven in all." Hikayat Raja 

and calling together all his people Budtman, part ii. pp. 7, 8. Pub- 

to feast, installed (tabal) the Golden lications of the S. B. of the Royal 

Dragon as king over them in his own Asiatic Society, No. 3. 


refrained from drinking the water, and dipped into it 
merely the tips of his fingers, which became immedi- 
ately petrified. Proceeding he met a vast number 
of wild animals pigs, deer, and elephants which 
were fleeing from the pursuit of a beast of no great 
size indeed, but with fiery red fur. He therefore 
prudently climbed into a tree to allow it to pass. 
The beast, however, pursued him and commenced to 
climb the tree, but as it climbed he drove the point of 
his poniard (badik) into its skull, and killed it. He 
then robbed it of its whiskers, and thereafter, on his 
reaching a town, everybody fled from him because of 
the whiskers which had belonged to so fierce a beast. 
The Raja of that country, begging for one of them, 
and giving him food, he presented him with one of the 
whiskers in payment. After paying his way in a similar 
manner at seven successive villages, the Petrified 
Pilgrim at length reached Mecca." 

" Bores," or "eagres," at the mouths of rivers, and 
floods l due to heavy rain, are conceived to be caused 
by the passage of some gigantic animal, most prob- 
ably a sort of dragon, as in the case of landslips, 
which will be mentioned later. 

This animal, whose passage up rivers is held to 
cause the tidal wave or bore, is called Bena in Sel- 
angor. It is a matter of common report among 

1 " The Malays give the names ' Bah ejaculated my head boatman. In 

Jantan' and 'Bah Betina,' viz. the common with other Malays, he held 

' male ' and the ' female ' floods, re- the belief that floods, like other moving 

spectively to the first rising of a freshet, things, go in couples. The first to come 

and to the flood which sometimes en- is the male, and when he has passed 

sues after the waters have partially upon his way the female comes after 

subsided. The latter is generally sup- him, pursuing him hotly, according to 

posed to be more serious than the the custom of the sex, and she is the 

former." Cliff, and Swett., Ma,l. Diet. more to be feared, as she rushes more 

s.v. Bah. furiously than does her fleeing mate." 

"'If this be the likeness of the male Cliff., Stud, in Brown Humanity, p. 

flood, what will that of the female be ? ' 213. 


Malays at Jugra, on the Selangor coast, that a bore 
formerly " frequented " the Langat river, near its 
mouth. This was anterior to the severance of the 
narrow neck of land 1 at Bandar that divided the 
old channel of the Langat river from the stream 
into which the waters of the Langat now flow, 
forming the short cut to the sea called the Jugra 
Passage. In the days when the bore came up the 
river the Malays used to go out in small canoes 
or dug-outs to " sport amongst the breakers " (main 
gelombang), frequently getting upset for their pains. 
Eventually, however (I was told), the bore was killed 
by a Langat Malay, who struck it upon the head with 
a stick ! It is considered that this must be true, since 
there is no bore in the Langat river now ! 

Eclipses (Gerhana) of the sun or moon are con- 
sidered to be the outward and visible sign of the 
devouring of those bodies 2 by a sort of gigantic 
dragon (ra/m) 3 or dog (anjing). Hence the tumult 

1 This neck of land was called Vipra-'citti and Sinhika, and had four 
" Penarek Prahu," or the " Place of arms, his lower part ending in a tail), 
the dragging (across) of Boats. " he was the instigator of all mischief 

2 " The belief (probably borrowed among the daityas, and when the gods 
from the Hindoos) of a serpent devour- had produced the amrita or nectar 
ing the sun or moon, whenever they from the churned ocean, he disguised 
are eclipsed, and the weird lamentations himself like one of them and drank a 
of the people during the continuance portion of it, but the sun and moon 
of these phenomena, are well known." having detected his fraud and informed 
Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 358. Vishnu, the latter severed his head and 

3 " During an eclipse they (the two of his arms from the rest of his 
Malays) make a loud noise with sound- body ; the portion of nectar he had 
ing instruments to prevent one lumin- swallowed having secured his immor- 
ary from devouring the other, as the tality, the head and tail were trans- 
Chinese, to frighten away the dragon." ferred to the stellar sphere, the head 
Marsden, Hist, of Sum. p. 157. I wreaking its vengeance on the sun 
have not yet met with the explana- and moon by occasionally swallowing 
tion given in this passage of Marsden's them for a time, while the tail, under 
work. the name of Ketu, gave birth to a 

" Rahu, a daitya or demon who is numerous progeny of comets and fiery 

supposed to seize the sun and moon, meteors." Monier Williams, Skt. 

and thus cause eclipses (according to Diet. s.v. Rahu. 
the common myth he was a son of 


made during an eclipse by the Malays, who imagine 
that if they make a sufficient din they will frighten the 
monster away. 

The following is an excellent description of a lunar 
eclipse from the Malay point of view : 

" One night, when the Moon has waxed nearly to 
the full, Pekan resounds with a babel of discordant 
noise. The large brass gongs, in which the devils of 
the Chinese are supposed to take delight, clang and 
clash and bray through the still night air ; the Malay 
drums throb and beat and thud ; all manner of shrill 
yells fill the sky, and the roar of a thousand native 
voices rises heavenwards, or rolls across the white 
waters of the river, which are flecked with deep 
shadows and reflections. The jungles on the far 
bank take up the sound and send it pealing back in 
recurring ringing echoes till the whole world seems to 
shout in chorus. The Moon which bathes the earth in 
splendour, the Moon which is so dear to each one of 
us, is in dire peril this night, for that fierce monster, 
the GerMna, 1 whom we hate and loathe, is striving to 
swallow her. You can mark his black bulk creeping 
over her, dimming her face, consuming her utterly, 
while she suffers in the agony of silence. How often 
in the past has she served us with the light ; how often 
has she made night more beautiful than day for our 
tired, sun-dazed eyes to look upon ; and shall she now 
perish without one effort on our part to save her by 
scaring the Monster from his prey? No ! A thousand 
times no ! So we shout, and clang the gongs, and beat 
the drums, till all the animal world joins in the tumult, 
and even inanimate nature lends its voice to swell the 

1 Gtrh&na is from a Sanskr. word meaning "eclipse." The name of the 
monster is Rahu. 


uproar with a thousand resonant echoes. At last the 
hated Monster reluctantly retreats. Our war-cry has 
reached his ears, and he slinks sullenly away, and 
the pure, sad, kindly Moon looks down in love and 
gratitude upon us, her children, to whose aid she owes 
her deliverance." l 

The " spots on the moon " 2 are supposed to repre- 
sent an inverted banyan tree (Beringin songsang), 
underneath which an aged hunchback is seated plait- 
ing strands of tree bark (pintal tali kulit t'rap) to make 
a fishing-line, wherewith he intends to angle for every- 
thing upon the earth as soon as his task is completed. 
It has never been completed yet, however, for a rat 
always gnaws the line through in time to save man- 
kind from disaster, despite the vigilance of the old man's 
cat, which is always lying in wait for the offender. 3 It 
is perhaps scarcely necessary to add that when the line 
reaches the earth the end of the world will come. 

" Bujang ('single,' 'solitary,' and hence in a 
secondary sense ' unmarried ') is a Sanskrit word 
bhujangga, 'a dragon.' 'Bujang Malaka,' a moun- 
tain in Perak, is said by the Malays of that State to 
have been so called because it stands alone, and could 
be seen from the sea by traders who plied in old days 
between the Perak river and the once flourishing port 

1 Clifford, Stud, in Brown Humanity > and was taken up by the moon into 

p. 50. For ceremonies to be observed her arms. This is no doubt the real 

during an eclipse, more especially by explanation of the Malay phrase, 

women in travail, vide Birth Cere- " Bulan bunting pflandok" ("the 

monies (infra). moon is great with the mouse-deer "), 

2 "They (the Malays) observe in an expression often used when the 
the moon an old man sitting under a moon is three-quarters full. 
bZringin tree (the Banyan, Ficus In- 3 " They tell of a man in the moon, 
dica)." Maxwell, in J. R. A. S., S.B., who is continually employed in spin- 
No. 7, p. 27, In Sanskrit mythology ning cotton, but that every night a rat 
the spots on the moon are supposed gnaws his thread, and obliges him to 
to be caused by a hare or antelope, begin his work afresh." Marsd., Hist. 
which being hard pressed by a hunter of Sum. p. 187. 
appealed to the moon for protection, 


of Malacca. But it is just as likely to have been named 
from some forgotten legend in which a dragon played 
a part. Dragons and mountains are generally con- 
nected in Malay ideas. The caves in the limestone 
hill Gunong Pondok, in Perak, arc said to be haunted 
by a genius loci in the form of a snake who is popularly 
called Si Bujang. This seems to prove beyond doubt 
the identity of bujang with bhujangga? The snake- 
spirit of Gunong Pondok is sometimes as small as a 
viper, and sometimes as large as a python, but he may 
always be identified by his spotted neck, which re- 
sembles that of a wood-pigeon (tekukur}. Landslips 
on the mountains, which are tolerably frequent during 
very heavy rains, and which, being produced by the 
same cause, are often simultaneous with the flooding 
of rivers and the destruction of property, are attri- 
buted by the natives to the sudden breaking forth of 
dragons (naga), which have been performing religious 
penance (ber-tapa) 2 in the mountains, and which are 
making their way to the sea." 3 

So, too, many waterfalls and rocks of unusual shape 
are thought to owe their remarkable character to the 
agency of demons. This, however, is a subject which 
will be treated more fully later on. 

" Palangi, the usual Malay word for the rainbow, 
means 'striped.' The name varies, however, in different 
localities. In Perak it is called palangi minum^ (from 
a belief that it is the path by which spirits descend to 
the earth to drink), while in Penang it is known as 

1 It is, however, also possible that 2 Sanskrit tapasya. 

there may be two " bujangs," and that 3 Maxwell, in J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 

we have here a simple case of what 7, p. 28. 

philologists call "confluence," so that 4 In Selangor I have also heard 

the derivation, though quite possible, "Ular mznum," " the snake drinks. " 
must not be accepted without reserve. 


ular danu ('the snake danu'). In Prak, a rainbow 
which stretches in an arch across the sky is called 
bantal (' the pillow '), for some reason that I have been 
unable to ascertain. 1 When only a small portion of a 
rainbow is visible, which seems to touch the earth, it 
is called tunggul (f\h.z. flag'), 2 and if this is seen at some 
particular point of the compass the west, I think 
it betokens, the Perak Malays say, the approaching 
death of a Raja. Another popular belief is that the 
ends of the rainbow rest upon the earth, and that if 
one could dig at the exact spot covered by one end of 
it, an untold treasure would be found there. Unfor- 
tunately, no one can ever arrive at the place." 3 

" Sunset is the hour when evil spirits of all kinds 
have most power. 4 In Perak, children are often called 
indoors at this time to save them from unseen dangers. 
Sometimes, with the same object, a woman belonging 
to the house where there are young children, will chew 
kuniet terus (an evil-smelling root), supposed to be 
much disliked by demons of all kinds, and spit it out 
at seven different points as she walks round the house. 

" The yellow glow which spreads over the western 
sky, when it is lighted up with the last rays of the 
dying sun, is called mambang kuning ('the yellow 
deity '), a term indicative of the superstitious dread 
associated with this particular period." 5 

1 A Selangor Malay told me that 3 Maxwell, /. R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, 
the full phrase was " Ular Danu btrban- p. 2 1 . 

tal" "the snake Danu is pillowed (in 4 So , too, midday, especially when a 

slee P)- light rain is falling and the sun shining 

2 A fuller expression is tunggul- ftt Qne and the samfi u - s u * 

tunggul mtmbangun.^ A double ram- r ded as j, d rous . 
bow is calIed/a/a//T sa-klamin. 

Maxwell points out, in a note, that 6 Maxwell, loc. cit. Vide infra, 

dhanuk, in Hindustani, means a bow, Chap. IV. pp. 92, 93. 
and is a common term in India, among 
Hindus, for the rainbow. 


(a) Creation of Man 

A COMMON feature in Malay romances and legends 
is a description of the supernatural development of a 
young child in the interior of some vegetable produc- 
tion, usually a bamboo. 

Sir W. E. Maxwell has pointed out the fact of the 
existence, both in Malay and Japanese legends, of the 
main features of this story, to which he assigns a 
Buddhistic origin. He tells the story as follows : 

" The Raja of the Bamboo. Some years ago I 
collected a number of legends current among Malayan 
tribes having as their principal incident the supernatural 
development of a prince, princess, or demi-god in the 
stem of a bamboo, or tree, or the interior of some 
closed receptacle. 1 I omitted, however, to mention 
that this very characteristic Malay myth occurs in the 
" Sri Rama," a Malay prose hikayat? which, as its 

1 JournaloJ 'the Royal Asiatic Society ', incarnated from the hollow part of a 

N.S. vol. xiii. part iv. Cp. also the note bamboo." See also J.R.A.S., S.B., 

to page 8 supra, in which the Golden No. 9, p. 91. 

Dragon is made to say, "I have 2 Hikayat ; i.e. "romance." 
neither father nor mother, but I was 


name betokens, professes to describe the adventures 
of the hero of the Ramayana. 

" Roorda van Eysinga's edition of the Sri Rama 
opens with an account of how Maharaja Dasaratha 
sent his Chief Mantri, 1 Puspa Jaya Karma, to search 
for a suitable place at which to found a settlement. 
The site having been found and cleared, the narrative 
proceeds as follows : 

" ' Now there was a clump of the belong* bamboo 
(sarumpun buluh belong), the colour of which was like 
gold of ten touch (amas sapuloh mutu), and its leaves 
like silver. All the trees which grew near bent in its 
direction, and it looked like a state umbrella (payong 
manuwangi*\ The Mantri and people chopped at it, 
but as fast as they cut down a branch on one side, a 
fresh one shot forth on the other, to the great astonish- 
ment of all the Rajas, Mantris, and warriors. Puspa 
Vikrama Jaya hastened back to King Dasaratha and 
laid the matter before him. The latter was greatly 
surprised, and declared that he would go himself the 
next day and see the bamboo cut down. Next day he 
set out on a white elephant, attended by a splendid 
train of chiefs and followers, and on reaching the spot 
ordered the bamboo clump to be cut down. Vikrama 
Puspa Jaya pointed it out, shaded by the other forest 
trees. The king perceived that it was of very elegant 
appearance, and that an odour like spices and musk 
proceeded from it. He told Puspa Jaya Vikrama to 
cut it down, and the latter drew his sword, which was 
as big as the stem of a cocoa-nut tree, and with one 
stroke cut down one of the bamboos. But immediately 
a fresh stem shot forth on the other side, and this hap- 

1 Mantri; i.e. "Minister of State." 3 Manu-wangi; perhaps a mistake for 

2 Bftong ; i.e. "big." manuwanggi, cp. btraduwanggi, infra. 



pened as often as a stroke was given. Then the king 
grew wroth, and getting down from his elephant he 
drew his own sword and made a cut with it at the 
bamboo, which severed a stem. Then, by the divine 
decree of the Dewatas, the king became aware of a 
female form in the bamboo clump seated on a highly 
ornamented platform (geta), her face shining like the 
full moon when it is fourteen days old, and the colour 
of her body being like gold of ten touch. On this, 
King Dasaratha quickly unloosed his girdle and 
saluted the princess. Then he lifted her on to his 
elephant and took her to his palace escorted by music 
and singing.'" l 

I myself have heard among the Selangor Malays 
similar legends to the above, which, as already pointed 
out, are common in Malay romances. A parallel myth 
is described in the following words : 

" Now, the Perak river overflows its banks once a 
year, and sometimes there are very great floods. 
Soon after the marriage of Nakhodah Kasim with 
the white Semang, 2 an unprecedented flood occurred 
and quantities of foam came down the river. Round 
the piles of the bathing-house, which, in accordance 
with Malay custom, stood in the bed of the river 
close to the bank in front of the house, the floating 
volumes of foam collected in a mass the size of an 
elephant. Nakhodah Kasim's wife went to bathe, 
and finding this island of froth in her way she 
attempted to move it away with a stick ; she removed 
the upper portion of it and disclosed a female infant 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 17. Notes mates to that of the Negritos of the 
and Queries, No. 4, sec. 94. Andaman Islands and the Philippines, 

2 Semangs are aboriginal non-Mu- but the one referred to in this legend 
hammadan inhabitants of the interior had white blood, which is considered 
of the Peninsula. Their type approxi- by Malays to be the royal colour. 


sitting in the midst of it enveloped all round with 
cloud-like foam. The child showed no fear, and the 
white Semang, carefully lifting her, carried her up to the 
house, heralding her discovery by loud shouts to her 
husband. The couple adopted the child willingly, for 
they had no children, and they treated her thence- 
forward as their own. They assembled the villagers 
and gave them a feast, solemnly announcing their 
adoption of the daughter of the river and their 
intention of leaving to her everything that they 

" The child was called Tan Puteh, but her father 
gave her the name of Teh Purba. 1 As she grew up 
the wealth of her foster-parents increased ; the village 
grew in extent and population, and gradually became an 
important place." 2 

The usual story of the first creation of man, how- 
ever, appears to be a Malay modification of Arabic 

Thus we are told that man was created from the 
four elements earth, air, water, and fire in a way 
which the following extract, taken from a Selangor 
charm-book, will explain : 

" God Almighty spake unto Gabriel, saying, 
' Be not disobedient, O Gabriel, 
But go and get me the Heart of the Earth.' 
But he could not get the Heart of the Earth. 
' I will not give it,' said the Earth. 
Then went the Prophet Israfel to get it, 
But he could not get the Heart of the Earth. 

1 Teh, short for Putch, "white"; on a certain day that the river of 

Pfirba, or Pfirva, Sanskrit " first." Palembang brought down a foam-bell 

This name is also given to the first of uncommon size, in which appeared 

Malay Raja in the Sajarah Malayu. a young girl of extreme beauty." She 

" J. R.A.S., S.B., No. 9, pp. 90, was adopted by the Raja, and " named 

91. For a similar story vide Leyden's Putri Tunjong Bui, or the Princess 

Malay A mi (-.Is, p. 29: "It happened Foam-bell." 


Then went Michael to get it, 

But he could not get the Heart of the Earth. 

Then went Azrael to get it, 

And at last he got the Heart of the Earth. 

When he got the Heart of the Earth 

The empyrean and crystalline spheres shook, 

And the whole Universe (shook). 

When he got the Heart of the Earth he l made from it the Image of 


But the Heart of the Earth was then too hard ; 
He mixed Water with it, and it became too soft, 
(So) he mixed Fire with it, and at last struck out the image of Adam. 
Then he raised up the image of Adam, 
And craved Life for it from Almighty God, 
And God Almighty gave it Life. 

Then sneezed God Almighty, and the image of Adam brake in pieces, 
And he (Azrael) returned to remake the image of Adam. 
Then God Almighty commanded to take steel of Khorassan, 
And drive it down his back, so that it became the thirty-three bones, 
The harder steel at the top, the softer below it. 
The harder steel shot up skywards, 
And the softer steel penetrated earthwards. 
Thus the image of Adam had life, and dwelt in Paradise. 
(There) Adam beheld (two ?) peacocks of no ordinary beauty, 
And the Angel Gabriel appeared. 
' Verily, O Angel Gabriel, I am solitary, 
Easier is it to live in pairs, I crave a wife.' 
God Almighty spake, saying, ' Command Adam 
To pray at dawn a prayer of two genuflexions.' 
Then Adam prayed, and our Lady Eve descended, 
And was captured by the Prophet Adam ; 
But before he had finished his prayer she was taken back, 
Therefore Adam prayed the prayer of two genuflexions as desired, 
And at the last obtained our Lady Eve. 
When they were married (Eve) bore twins every time, 
Until she had borne forty-four children, 
And the children, too, were wedded, handsome with handsome, and 

plain with plain." 

The magician who dictated the above account 
stated that when Azrael stretched forth his hand to 
take the Heart of the Earth, the Earth-spirit caught 
hold of his middle finger, which yielded to the strain, 
and thus became longer than the rest, and received its 
Malay name of the " Devil's Finger" (jari bantu). 

1 It is Gabriel who performs this office in the account which follows. 


A parallel account adds that the Heart of the Earth 
was white, and gives a fuller description of the inter- 
view between Azrael and his formidable antagonist, the 
Earth. After saluting the latter in the orthodox 
Muhammadan fashion, Azrael explains his mission, 
and is met by a point-blank refusal. " I will not 
give it," said the Earth (referring to its Heart), 
" forasmuch as I was so created by God Almighty, 
and if you take away my Heart I shall assuredly die." 
At this brusque, though perhaps natural retort, the 
archangel loses his temper, and rudely exclaims that 
he " will take the Earth's Heart whether it will 
or no." Here Azrael "gave the Earth a push with 
his right hand and his left, and grasping at the Heart 
of the Earth, got hold of it and carried it back to the 
presence of God." God now summons Gabriel and 
orders him to mould (lit. forge) the image of Adam. 
Then Gabriel took the lump of earth which was the 
Earth's Heart and mixed it first with water to soften 
it, then, as it was too soft, with fire to harden it, and 
when the image was made, obtained life from God to 
put into it. 1 [The breaking of the first image which 

1 ' ' Concerning the creation of Adam, remorse, for which reason God appointed 

here intimated, the Mohammedans have that angel to separate the souls from 

several peculiar traditions. They say the bodies, being therefore called the 

the angels Gabriel, Michael, and Israfil angel of death. The earth he had 

were sent by God, one after another, to taken was carried into Arabia, to a 

fetch for that purpose seven handfuls place between Mecca and Tayef, where, 

of earth from different depths, and of being first kneaded by the angels, it 

different colours (whence some account was afterwards fashioned by God him- 

for the various complexions of mankind); self into a human form, and left to dry 

but the Earth being apprehensive of the for the space of forty days, or, as 

consequence, and desiring them to others say, as many years, the angels 

represent her fear to God that the in the meantime often visiting it, and 

creature He designed to form would Eblis (then one of the angels who are 

rebel against Him, and draw down His nearest to God's presence, afterwards 

curse upon her, they returned without the devil) among the rest ; but he, not 

performing God's command ; where- contented with looking on it, kicked it 

upon He sent Azrael on the same errand, with his foot till it rung, and knowing 

who executed his commission without God designed that creature to be his 


was made, and the making of the second, are here 
omitted]. Finally, the creation of "our Lady" Eve and 
the birth of her first-born are described, the latter 
occasion being accompanied by a thick darkness, which 
compelled Adam to take off his turban and beat the 
child therewith in order to dispel the evil influences 
(badi) which had attended its birth. 1 

The following extract (from a Malay treatise quoted 
by Newbold) fairly describes the general state of Malay 
ideas respecting the constitution of the human body : 

" Plato, Socrates, Galen, Aristotle, and other philo- 
sophers affirm that God created man of a fixed number 
of bones, blood-vessels, etc. For instance, the skull is 
composed of 5 J bones, the place of smell and sense of 7 
bones, between this and the neck are 32 bones. The 
neck is composed of 7 bones, and the back of 24 bones ; 
208 bones are contained in the other members of the 
body. In all there are 360 bones and 360 blood-vessels 
in a man's body. The brains weigh 306 miscals, the 
blood 573. The total of all the bones, blood-vessels, 
large and small, and gristles, amounts to 1093 ; and 
the hairs of the head to six lacs and 4000. The frame 
of man is divided into 40 great parts, which are again 

superior, took a secret resolution never reft in pieces and scattered into the 

to acknowledge him as such. After air. Those fragments of the first great 

this God animated the figure of clay Failure are the spirits of earth and sea 

and endued it with an intelligent soul, and air. 

and when He had placed him in para- "The Creator then formed another 

disc, formed Eve out of his left side. " clay figure, but into this one He 

Sale's Koran, ch. ii. (of translation), wrought some iron, so that when it 

p. 4 (note). received the vital spark it withstood 

1 " The Creator determined to make the strain and became Man. That 

man, and for that purpose He took man was Adam, and the iron that is in 

some clay from the earth and fashioned the constitution of his descendants has 

it into the figure of a man. Then He stood them in good stead. When they 

took the Spirit of Life to endue this lose it they become of little more 

body with vitality, and placed the spirit account than their prototype the first 

on the head of the figure. But the failure." Swettenham, Malay Sketches t 

spirit was strong, and the body, being p. 199. 
only clay, could not hold it, and was 


subdivided. Four elements enter into his composition, 
viz. air, fire, earth, and water. With these elements 
are connected four essences the soul or spirit with 
air, love with fire, concupiscence with earth, and wisdom 
with water." l 

(b) Sanctity of the Body 

In dealing with this branch of the subject I will 
first take the case of the kings and priestly magicians 
who present the most clearly- marked examples of 
personal sanctity which are now to be found among 
Malays, and will then describe the chief features of 
the sanctity ascribed to all ranks alike in respect of 
certain special parts of the ordinary human anatomy. 
The theory of the king as the Divine Man is held 
perhaps as strongly in the Malay region as in any 
other part of the world, a fact which is strikingly 
emphasised by the alleged right of Malay monarchs 
" to slay at pleasure, without being guilty of a 
crime" Not only is the king's person considered 
sacred, but the sanctity of his body is believed to 
communicate itself to his regalia, and to slay those 
who break the royal taboos. Thus it is firmly be- 
lieved that any one who seriously offends the royal 
person, who touches (even for a moment) or who 
imitates (even with the king's permission) the chief 
objects of the regalia, 2 or who wrongfully makes use 

1 Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. pp. 351, speak personally, as when a set of 
352. In Selangor, some of the greater models of the Selangor regalia were 
bones, at least, have their own mystic being made for me, with the late 
nomenclature, e.g. the backbone, which Sultan's full permission and knowledge, 
is called tiang 'arasb, or the " Pillar I found it impossible to get them made 
of the Heavens." really like the originals either in shape 

2 Of the superstition which forbids or size, the makers alleging their fear 
the imitation of the royal insignia I can of being struck dead in spite of this 


of any of the insignia or privileges of royalty, will 
be kena daulat, i.e. struck dead, by a quasi -electric 
discharge of that Divine Power which the Malays 
suppose to reside in the king's person, 1 and which 
is called " Daulat " or "Royal Sanctity." Before I 
proceed, however, to discuss this power, it will be best 
to give some description of the regalia in which it 
resides : 

Of Malacca Newbold says : " The articles of Malay 
regalia usually consist of a silasila, or book of genealo- 
gical descent, a code of laws, a vest or baju, and a 
few weapons, generally a kris, kleywang, or spear. " : 

" The limbing is a sort of lance ; the tombak 
bandrang a spear of state, four or seven of which are 
usually carried before the chiefs in the interior of the 
Peninsula. The handle is covered with a substance 
flowing from it like a horse - tail, dyed crimson, 
sometimes crimson and white ; this is generally of 
hair." 3 

So in Leyden's translation of the Malay Annals 
(1821) we read 

" My name is Bichitram Shah, who am raja. 
. . . This is the sword, Chora sa mendang kian 
(i.e. mandakini\ and that is the lance, Limbuar (i.e. 
limbuara) ; this is the signet, Cayu Gampit, which is 
employed in correspondence with rajas."' 

" The Chora sa medang kian (i.e. mandakini) is the 

permission by this Divine Power or * " The kabesaran or regalia of every 

"Daulat" if they were to imitate petty state is supposed to be endowed 

them too accurately. In Perak the with supernatural powers, for instance 

custom would appear to be less that of the ex-Panghulu of Naning." 

strict. Thus from Malay Sketches Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 193. 

(p. 215) we may gather that in the 2 Ibid. 

"silver" state even the most sacred 3 Ibid. p. 195. 

pieces of the regalia accompany the 4 Leyden, Malay Annals, pp. 22-23. 

royal party upon their annual expedi- The words in brackets are mine. W. S. 
tion to seek for turtles' eggs. 


celebrated sword with which Peramas Cumunbang 
killed the enormous serpent Sicatimuna, which ravaged 
the country of Menangkabowe about the beginning of 
the twelfth century." 

Of the Perak regalia we read : "Tan Saban was 
commanded by his mistress to open negotiations with 
Johor, and this having been done, a prince of the royal 
house of that kingdom, who traced his descent from the 
old line of Menangkabau, sailed for Perak to assume 
the sovereignty. He brought with him the insignia of 
royalty, namely, the royal drums (gandang nobat\ the 
pipes (nafiri), the flutes (sarunei and bangsi\ the 
betel-box (puan naga taru\ the sword (chora man- 
dakini), the sword (perbujang\ the sceptre (kayu gamit\ 
the jewel (kamala), the surat chiri, the seal of state 
(chap halilintar), and the umbrella (ubar-ubar\ All 
these were enclosed in a box called Baninan"' 

In Selangor the regalia consisted of the royal instru- 
ments of music (the big State Drum or naubat, beaten 
at the king's coronation ; the two small State Drums 
(gendang) ; the two State Kettle-drums (langkara) \ 
the lempiri or State Trumpet, and the serunei or 
State Flute to which perhaps a bangsi should be 
added, as in the Perak list) which were seldom, if 
ever, moved, and the following articles which were 
carried in procession on state occasions : 3 

1 Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 199 ; this supposition is accepted, the name 

cp. Leyden, Mai. Annals, pp. 38, 39. would mean "lion of the world," vide 

Limbuara, limbuana, or slmbuana ( = App. xxviii.-xxx. 

singkabuana) is the name given to the a J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 9, pp. 91, 92. 

lance of the Spectre Huntsman, (vide 3 It would appear from Malay 

Chap. V. p. ii 8), whose Kris is called romances that the full complement 

saltngkisa. It has been suggested that of musical instruments forming part 

singhabuana may be composed of two of a royal orchestra was, at all events 

Sanskrit words meaning " lion " and sometimes, twelve. Thus when S'ri 

" world," but put in the Malay order, Rama is bidden by the astrologers to 

which is the opposite of Sanskrit. If get up an expedition by water for the 


1. The royal Betel-box. 

2. The Long K'ris a kind of rapier used for Malay executions. 

3. The two royal Swords ; one on the right hand and one on 

the left (all of the articles mentioned hitherto being carried 
in front of the Sultan). 

4. The royal " Fringed " Umbrella (payong ubor-ubor\ carried 

behind the right-hand sword-bearer. 

5. The royal " Cuspadore," carried behind the left-hand sword- 


6. The royal Tobacco-box, carried at the Sultan's back. 

7. The eight royal tufted Lances (tombak bendrang or bandan- 

gan), whose bearers were followed by two personal attendants, 
the latter of whom attended, besides, to anything that was 
broken or damaged ; so that the procession numbered 
seventeen persons in all. 1 

Of the Pahang regalia I have not been able to ob- 
tain a list with any pretensions to completeness, but 
from a remark by Mr. Clifford (the present Resident) 
in one of his books, they would appear to be essen- 
tially the same as those of the other Federated States. 2 

A list of the Jelebu regalia (given me by Ungku 
Said Kechil of Jelebu) ran as follows : 

1. A single-bladed Sword (pedang pemanchor). 

2. The Long K'ris (Kris panjang,penyalang}, used for executions. 

3. The royal Lances (tombak bendrang). 

4. The royal Umbrella (payong kabesaran). 

5. The royal Standard and Pennants (tunggul ular-ular). 

amusement of his Princess, "dresses called tombak b2rch?ranggah or the 

of honour were given to the attend- " Branching Lance." The ordinary 

ants, and musical instruments of the lances might be borrowed by the 

twelve kinds were got together." people, and carried, for example, in 

Maxw., in Sri Rama, J.R.A.S.^ S.H., the procession escorting a bridegroom 

No. 17, p. 93. (by virtue of his supposed "one day's 

1 This list was given me by H.H. sovereignty," Raja sa-hari) to the house 

Raja Bot of Selangor. Besides the of his bride, but the trident never, 

above there are several royal "pro- 2 "All the insignia of royalty were 

perties " not usually included in any hastily fashioned by the goldsmiths of 

list of regalia. These are H.H. 's chain Penjum, and whenever To' Raja or 

jacket (baju rantef) ; a species of shield Wan Bong appeared in public they 

or targe, said to be made of brass, and were accompanied by pages bearing 

called otar-otar ; H.H.'s seal, and pos- betel-boxes, swords, and silken um- 

sibly his mat and the dish he ate from. brellas, as in the manner of Malay 

One of the tombak belonging to H.H. kings." Cliff., In Court and Kampong, 

was a species of trident, and was p. 115. 


6. The royal Ceiling -cloth and Hangings (tabir, langit-langit 


7. The " Moving Mountains " (gttnong dua berangkat\ perhaps 

the names of two peaked pillows. 

8. The royal Drums (gendang naubat) ; said to be " headed " 

with the skins of lice (kulit tuma) and to emit a single 
chord of twelve tones when struck (dua-tflas bunyi sakali 

~, , ~ . /7 - ... . . . . .x "i Each of these was 

9. The royal Trumpet (lempirt or &**/). I alsQ gaid tQ emit 

10. The roya Gong. \ si le chord f 

1 1. The royal Guitar (kechapt). } ^ notes. 

12. The royal rcbab or Malay fiddle. 

This latter peculiarity (of the multiplication of 
notes) is quite in accordance with the traditions of 
the king's musical instruments in Malay romances. 
Thus of Raja Donan's magic flute we are told, "The 
first time (that he sounded it), the flute gave forth the 
sounds of twelve instruments, the second time it played 
as if twenty -four instruments were being sounded, 
and the third time it played like thirty-six different 
instruments." No wonder we are told that "the 
Princesses Che Ambong and Che Muda dissolved 
in tears, and the music had to be stopped." * 

My informant declared that these objects came 
into existence of themselves (terjali sendiri), at 
a spot between the two peaks of a burning 
mountain {gunong merapi} in the country of 
Menangkabau in Sumatra. He also averred that 
"rain could not rot them nor sun blister them," 
and that any one who " brushed past them " 
(di-lintas) would fall to the ground; 2 whilst no 
fewer than seven buffaloes have to be slaughtered 

1 Maxw. in Raja Donan.J.R. A. S., Pfsaka di toras (? turis) di-tHla- 
S.S., No. 18, p. 253. dan, 

" To 1 lapok de' hujan, P/saka di-lintas tumbang." 
To? ttkang d<? panas, 




before the " moving mountains " (when worn out) 
can be replaced. 1 

An enumeration of the writer's regalia often forms 
an important part of a letter from one Malay sovereign 
to another, more especially when the writer wishes to 
emphasise his importance. 2 

1 It is usually upon a portion of his 
insignia (as, for instance, his k'ris, which 
is dipped into water which he drinks) 
that a Malay sovereign swears his most 
solemn oath. Sometimes, however, it 
is upon a lump of iron called bfsi 
kawi, which not unfrequently forms 
part of the regalia as well. Vide 
Klink. s.v. Besi. 

2 The following recital of the titles 
of a Sumatran Raja will show at least 
the extraordinary pretensions to sanctity 
which to this day (with, in some parts, 
no great diminution) hedge about the 
person of the Malay king : 

"The Sultan of Menangcabow, whose 
residence is at Pagarooyoong (after par- 
don asked for presuming to mention 
his name), who is king of kings, son of 
Raja Iscunder-sulcarnainny, .... 
master of the third of the wood mac- 
cummat, one of whose properties is to 
enable matter to fly ; of the lance 
ornamented with the beard of Jangee, 
of the palace of the city of Rome ; 
.... of the gold of twelve grains 
named coodarat coodaratfee, resembling 
a man ; . . . . who is possessed of 
the sword named Chooree-se-mendong- 
geree, which has an hundred and ninety 
gaps, made in the conflict with the 
arch-devil, Se Cattee-moono, whom it 
slew ; who is master of fresh water 
in the ocean, to the extent of a day's 
sailing ; possessed of a lance formed 
of a twig of ejoo (the gomuti, or 
sugar-palm) ; of a calrwang (scimitar) 
wrapped in an unmade chinday (cloth) ; 
of a creese (dagger) formed of the soul 
of steel, which, by a noise, expresses 
an unwillingness at being sheathed, 
and shows itself pleased when drawn ; 
of a date coeval with the creation ; 
possessed of a gun brought from heaven, 
named soubahana hou ouatanalla ; 

of a horse of the race of sorimbor- 
aknee, superior to all others ; Sultan 
of the Burning Mountain, and of the 
mountains goontang-goontang, which 
divide Palembang and Jambee ; who 
may slay at pleasure without being 
guilty of a crime ; who is possessed of 
the elephant named settee dewa; who 
is Vicegerent of Heaven ; Sultan of the 
Golden River ; Lord of the Air and 
Clouds ; master of a balli (Audience- 
Hall), whose pillars are of the shrub 
jelattang; of gandangs (drums) made 
of hollowed branches of the minute 
shrubs pooloot and seelosooree ; of the 
gong that resounds to the skies ; of the 
buffalo named Se Binnooang Satiee, 
whose horns are ten feet asunder ; of 
the unconquered cock, Sengonannee; of 
the cocoa - nut tree whose amazing 
height, and being infested with serpents 
and other noxious reptiles, render it 
impossible to be climbed ; of the flower 
named seeree menjeree, of ambrosial 
scent ; who, when he goes to sleep, 
wakes not till the gandang nobat (state 
drum) sounds ; one of whose eyes is 
as the sun and the other as the moon." 
Marsden, Hist, of Sum. p. 270. 

On the foregoing list I should 
like to remark (l) that the necessity 
of asking pardon for mentioning the 
king's name is considered by the Penin- 
sular Malays to be as imperative as 
ever. (2) The expression "who is mas- 
ter of fresh water in the ocean " is 
explained by a passage in Leyden's 
Malay Annals (p. 37), where, all the 
fresh water being exhausted, "Raja 
Sang Sapurba directed them to bring 
rotans and tie them in circles and 
throw them in the water ; then having 
himself descended into a small boat, 
he inserted his feet into the water, 
within the circles of bamboo (sic), and 


But the extraordinary strength of the Malay belief 
in the supernatural powers of the regalia of their 
sovereigns can only be thoroughly realised after a 
study of their romances, in which their kings are 
credited with all the attributes of inferior gods, whose 
birth, as indeed every subsequent act of their after life, 
is attended by the most amazing prodigies. 

They are usually invulnerable, and are gifted 
with miraculous powers, such as that of transforming 
themselves, and of returning to (or recalling others 
to) life ; in fact they have, in every way, less of the 
man about them and more of the god. Thus it 
is that the following description of the dress of 
an old-time Raja falls easily into line with what 
would otherwise appear the objectless jargon which 
still constitutes the preamble of many a Malay prince's 
letters, but which can yet be hardly regarded as mere 
rhetoric, since it has a deep meaning for those who 
read it : 

" He wore the trousers called beraduwanggi, 
miraculously made without letting in pieces ; hundreds 
of mirrors encircled his waist, thousands encircled his 

by the Power of God Almighty and the another Sultan of " Menangcabow " 

virtue of a descendant of Raja Secander named "Gaggar Allum"(Gegar 'Alam), 

Zulkameini, the water within these "were a sacred crown from God"; "the 

circles became fresh, and all the crews cloth sansistah kallah, which weaves 

supplied themselves with it, and unto itself, and adds one thread yearly of 

this day the fresh water is mixed with fine pearls, and when that cloth shall 

the salt at this place." (3) The horse, be finished the world will be no more " ; 

which is usually called " Sembrani," " the dagger Hangin Cinga (Singa ?) 

is a magic steed, " which could fly which will, at his command, fight of 

through the air as well as swim through itself"; "the blue champaka flower, 

the water" (Leyd., Mai. Ann, p. which is to be found in no country but 

17). (4) For the mountains Goon- his (being yellow elsewhere)," and 

tang-goontang (or Saguntang Maha- many others worthy of the Sultan 

miru), cp. Leyden's Mai. Ann. p. 20 " whose presence bringeth death to all 

seqq. (5) The privilege of "slaying who attempt to approach him without 

at pleasure without being guilty of a permission, " and of the " Sultan of 

crime " is a privilege which still belongs Indrapore, who has four breasts." 

to Malay sovereigns of the first rank. Marsden, Hist, of Sum. p. 272. 
Similar sacred objects, belonging to 


legs, they were sprinkled all about his body, and 
larger ones followed the seams." 

Then his waistband (kain ikat pinggang) was 
of "flowered cloth, twenty-five cubits in length, or 
thirty if the fringe be included ; thrice a day did it 
change its colours in the morning transparent as dew, 
at mid-day of the colour of lembayong? and in the 
evening of the hue of oil." 

Next came his coat. It was "of reddish purple 
velvet, thrice brilliant the lustre of its surface, seven 
times powerful the strength of the dye ; the dyer after 
making it sailed the world for three years, but the dye 
still clung to the palms of his hands." 

His dagger was " a straight blade of one piece which 
spontaneously screwed itself into the haft. The grooves, 
called retak mayat? started from the base of the blade, 
the damask called pamur janji appeared half-way up, 
and the damask called lam jilallah at the point ; the 
damask alif was there parallel with the edge, and 
where the damasking ended the steel was white. No 
ordinary metal was the steel, it was what was over 
after making the bolt of God's Ka'abah (at Meccah). 
It had been forged by the son of God's prophet, 
Adam, smelted in the palm of his hand, fashioned 
with the end of his finger, and coloured with the juice 

1 I.e. purple, -vide Klinkert, s. v.; cf. Indo-Chinese nation. " Le general en 

the following from /. R.A.S., S.., No. chef doit se conformer a plusieurs 

9, p. 93 : "Tan Saban was frequently coutumes et observances superstitieuses ; 

to be seen on the outworks of his fort par exemple, il faut qu'il mette une 

across the river, dressed in garments of robe de couleur differente pour chaque 

conspicuous colours. In the morning jour de la semaine ; le dimanche il 

he wore red, at mid-day yellow, and in s'habille en blanc, le lundi en jaune, 

the evening his clothes were green. le mardi en vert, le mercredi en rouge, 

When he was pointed out to Magat le jeudi en bleu, le vendredi en noir, et 

Terawis, it was the morning, and he le samedi en violet." Pallegoix, 

was dressed in red." Description de St'am, vol. i. p. 319. 

The foregoing superstitious observ- 2 Lit. "corpse grooves." 
ance is found among more than one 


of flowers in a Chinese furnace. Its deadly qualities 
came down to it from the sky, and if cleaned (with 
acid) at the source of a river, the fish at the embouchure 
came floating up dead. 

" The sword that he wore was called lang pen- 
gonggong? 'the successful swooper/lit. the 'kite carry- 
ing off its prey.' 

" The next article described is his turban, which, 
among the Malays, is a square handkerchief folded 
and knotted round the head." 

" He next took his royal handkerchief, knotting 
it so that it stood up with the ends projecting ; one of 
them he called dendam ta sudah (endless love) : it was 
purposely unfinished ; if it were finished the end of the 
world would come. It had been woven in no ordinary 
way, but had been the work of his mother from her 
youth. Wearing it he was provided with all the 
love-compelling secrets. (The names of a number of 
charms to excite passion are given, but they cannot be 
explained in the compass of a note)." 2 

He wore the Malay national garment the sarong. 
It was "a robe of muslin of the finest kind; no 
ordinary weaving had produced it ; it had been woven 
in a jar in the middle of the ocean by people with 
gills, relieved by others with beaks ; no sooner was it 
finished than the maker was put to death, so that no 
one might be able to make one like it. It was not of 
the fashion of the clothing of the rajas of the present 
day, but of those of olden time. If it were put in the 
sun it got damper, if it were soaked in water it became 
drier. A slight tear mended by darning only increased 

1 The usual form is ptnggonggong, leman," "Asam garam" " Ahadan 

from gonggong, to carry in the mouth. mabuk," " Sa-palit gila" " Sri gfgah" 

- Their Malay names are " Si-mula- and " Doa unus." J.R.A.S., S.., 

jadi" " Ashik sa-kampong" " Si-putar No. 17, pp. 94-97. 


its value, instead of lessening it, for the thread for the 
purpose cost one hundred dollars. A single dewdrop 
dropping on it would tangle the thread for a cubit's 
length, while the breath of the south wind would dis- 
entangle it." 

Finally, we get a description of the way in which 
the Raja (S'ri Rama) set out upon his journey. 

"He adopted the art called sedang budiman, 
the young snake writhed at his feet (i.e. he started at 
mid-day when his own shadow was round his feet), 
a young eagle was flying against the wind overhead ; 
he took a step forward and then two backward, one 
forward as a sign that he was leaving his country, and 
two backward as a sign that he would return ; as he 
took a step with the right foot, loud clanked his 
accoutrements l on his left ; as he put forth the left foot 
a similar clank was heard on his right ; he advanced, 
swelling out his broad chest, and letting drop his 
slender fingers, adopting the gait called ' planting 
beans,' and then the step called ' sowing spinach.' ' 

In addition to the sanctity of the regalia, the king, 
as the divine man, possesses an infinite multitude of 
prerogatives which enter into almost every act of his 
private life, and thus completely separate him from the 
generality of his fellow-men. 

These prerogatives are too numerous to be 
mentioned in detail, but the following extract from 
Leyden's translation of the " Malay Annals " will give a 
general idea of their character and extent : 

1 The Malay word is changgei, the arms reminds the Malay of the way 
which means "long nails" (whether a man steps and raises his arm to plant 
natural or artificial) ; artificial nails are bean-seeds six feet apart ; a quicker 
several inches in length, being much step and a rounder swing of the arms is 
affected by Malay actors performing as compared to the action of scattering 
royalty. small seeds. -J.R.A.S., S.B., loc. cit. 

2 A long step and a slow swing of 


"Sultan Muhammed Shah again established in 
order the throne of his sovereignty. He was the 
first who prohibited the wearing of yellow clothes in 
public, not even a handkerchief of that colour, nor 
curtains, nor hangings, nor large pillow-cases, nor 
coverlets, nor any envelope of any bundle, nor the 
cloth lining of a house, excepting only the waist cloth, 
the coat, and the turban. He also prohibited the con- 
structing of houses with abutments, or smaller houses 
connected with them ; also suspended pillars or timbers 
(tiang gantong] ; nor timbers the tops of which project 
above the roofs, and also summer houses. 1 He also 
prohibited the ornamenting of creeses with gold, and 
the wearing anklets of gold, and the wearing the koron- 
chong, or hollow bracelets (anklets ?) of gold, ornamented 
with silver. None of these prohibited articles did he 
permit to be worn by a person, however rich he might 
be, unless by his particular licence, a privilege which 
the raja has ever since possessed. He also forbade 
any one to enter the palace unless wearing a cloth 
petticoat 2 of decent length, with his creese in front ; s 
and a shoulder-cloth ; and no person was permitted 
to enter unless in this array, and if any one wore his 
creese behind him, it was incumbent on the porter of 
the gate to seize it. Such is the order of former time 
respecting prohibition by the Malayu rajas, and what- 
ever is contrary to this is a transgression against the 
raja, and ought to incur a fine of five cati. The white 

1 In house - building it is further that of the main building (kelek 

forbidden to dovetail or make the ends anak), 

of the timbers (e.g. of the roof) fit 2 I.e. the sarong or Malay national 

accurately together, and also to build garment ; for the custom, vide Cliff., 

two verandahs, one on each side of In Court and Kampong, p. 158, and 

the house, with their floors on a level for an exception, ib. 2"j. 

with the floor of the main build- 3 The hilt of the creese (frt's) must, 

ing ; if two verandahs are used, the however, be hidden by a fold of the 

floor of one must be lower than cloth about the wearer's waist. 


umbrella, which is superior to the yellow one, because 
it is seen conspicuous at a greater distance, was also 
confined to the raja's person, 1 while the yellow umbrella 
was confined to his family." ' 

A number of other particulars bearing on this sub- 
ject will be found in other parts of the text, and in the 
Appendix references are given to other works for 
additional details, which are too numerous to be 
recorded here. 

"At funerals, whether the deceased has been a 
great or insignificant person, if he be a subject, the 
use of the Payong (umbrella) and the Puwadi is 
interdicted, as also the distribution of alms, unless by 
royal permission ; otherwise the articles thus forbidden 
will be confiscated." "Puwadi is the ceremony of 
spreading a cloth, generally a white one, for funeral 
and other processions to walk upon. Should the de- 
ceased be of high rank, the cloth extends from the house 
where the corpse is deposited, to the burial-ground." * 

Similar prohibitions are still in force at the courts 
of the Malay Sultans in the Peninsula, though a yellow 
umbrella is now generally substituted for the white, at 
least in Selangor. 

A distinction is also now drawn between manu- 
factured yellow cloth and cloth which has been dyed 
yellow with saffron, the wrongful use of the latter 
(the genuine article) being regarded as the more 
especially heinous act. 

In addition to the royal monopoly of such objects 

1 ' ' The covered portion of the barge bows with long bamboo poles held 

which carries the Sultan's principal wife close together and erect. " Malay 

is decorated with six scarlet-bordered Sketches, p. 214. 

white umbrellas. Two officers stand, 2 Leyden, Malay Annals, pp. 94, 

all day long, just outside the state-room, 95. 

holding open black umbrellas with 3 Code of Malacca, translated in 

silver fringes, and two others are in the Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. pp. 234, 235. 


as have been mentioned, Sir W. E. Maxwell mentions 
three royal perquisites (larangan raja), i.e. river turtles 
(tuntong) (by which he no doubt means their eggs) ; 
elephants (by which he doubtless means elephants' 
tusks); 1 and the fruit of the " ketiar" from which oil 
is made by the Perak Malays. He adds, "It used to 
be a capital offence to give false information to the Raja 
about any of these. The ' ketiar ' tree is said to affect 
certain localities, and is found in groves not mixed 
with other trees. In former days, when the fruit was 
ripe, the whole of the Raja's household would turn out 
to gather it. It is said to yield a very large percentage 
of oil." 2 

The only tree in Ridley's list 3 whose name at all 
resembles the "ketiar" is the katiak, which is identi- 
fied as Acronychia Porteri, Wall (Rutaceae). 

A description of the gathering of the eggs of river 
turtles by the royal party in Perak will be found in 
Malay Sketches? 

Besides the above there are not a few linguistic 
taboos connected with the king's person, such as 
the use of the words santap, to eat ; beradu, to 
sleep; bersemaiam, to be seated, or to "reside" in 
a certain place; berangkat, to "progress"; siram, 
to bathe ; gring, to be sick ; and mangkat, to die ; 
all of which words are specially substituted for the 
ordinary Malay words when reference is made to the 
king. 5 Moreover, when the king dies his name is 

1 In Selangor this royal right to one 2 Notes and Queries, No. 4, issued 

of each pair of elephant's tusks is still wihJ.R.A.S., S.B., No. 17, sect. 75. 

a tradition to which an allusion is oc- 3 J.R.A.S.> S.B., No. 30, p. 127. 

casionally made. There are said to 4 Swettenham, op. cit. pp. 211-226. 

have been other perquisites as well as 6 Others are titah (commands) ; 

those mentioned, e.g. rhinoceros' horns patek (slave) ; mtrka or murka (wrath) ; 

(suml/u badak) and bezoar stones karnia or kumia (favour) ; and nlgrah 

\guliga). or anugrah (permission) ; the penalty of 


dropped, and he receives the title of " Marhum," the 
late or "deceased," with the addition of an expression 
alluding to some prominent fact in his life, or occasion- 
ally to the place of his decease. These titles, strange 
as it may seem, are often the reverse of complimentary, 
and occasionally ridiculous. 1 

It must not be forgotten, too, in discussing the 
divine attributes of the Malay king, that he is firmly 
believed to possess a personal influence over the works 
of nature, such as the growth of the crops and the 
bearing of fruit-trees. This same property is supposed 
to reside in a lesser degree in his delegates, and even 
in the persons of Europeans in charge of districts. 
Thus I have frequently known (in Selangor) the suc- 
cess or failure of the rice crops attributed to a change 
of district officers, and in one case I even heard an 
outbreak of ferocity which occurred among man-eating 
crocodiles laid at the door of a most zealous and able, 
though perhaps occasionally somewhat unsympathetic, 
representative of the Government. So, too, on one 

uttering any of which, except in address- Siam. The various kings of those 
ing the sovereign, is death, i.e. should countries are generally distinguished by 
the offender be a royal slave ; should some nickname derived from facts in 
he be any other individual, he is struck their reign or personal relations, and 
on the mouth. Newbold,0/. cit, vol. ii. applied to them after their decease. 
PP- 2 33' 2 345 vide also Malay Sketches, Thus we hear among the Burmese 
p. 218, where the same list of linguistic kings of 'the king dethroned by 
taboos appears to be used in Perak. foreigners,' ' the king who fled from 
1 Marhum, one who has found the Chinese,' 'the grandfather king,' 
mercy, i.e. the deceased. It is the and even ' the king thrown into the 
custom of Malays to discontinue after water.' Now this has a close parallel 
the death of a king the use of the title in the Archipelago. Among the kings 
which he bore during his life. A new of Macassar, we find one king known 
title is invented for the deceased only as the ' Throat-cutter ' ; another 
monarch, by which he is ever after- as ' He who ran amuck ' ; a third, 
wards known. The existence of a ' The beheaded ' ; a fourth, ' He who 
similar custom among other Indo- was beaten to death on his own stair- 
Chinese races has been noticed by case. ' " Colonel Yule ascribes the origin 
Colonel Yule: " There is also a custom of this custom to Ancient India, 
of dropping or concealing the proper [ Journal Anthrop. Institute. ]_/... .,4. -S 1 ., 
name of the king. This exists in S.B., No. 9, p. 98. 
Burma and (according to La Loubere) in 


occasion when three deaths occurred during a District 
Officer's temporary absence, the mere fact of his 
absence was considered significant. I may add that 
royal blood is supposed by many Malays to be white, 
and this is the pivot on which the plot of not a few 
Malay folk-tales is made to turn. 1 

Finally, it must be pointed out that the greatest 
possible importance is attached to the method of salut- 
ing the king. 

In the " Sri Rama " (the Malay Ramayana) we 
read, even of the chiefs, that 

" While yet some way off they bowed to the dust, 
When they got near they made obeisance, 
Uplifting at each step their fingers ten, 

The hands closed together like the rootlets of the bakong palm 2 
The fingers one on the other like a pile of sirih 2 leaves." 8 

Equals in rank when saluting one another touch 4 
(though they do not shake) each other's hands, but 
a person of humble birth must not touch hands 
in saluting a great chief. "A man, named Imam 
Bakar, was once slain at Pasir Tambang, at the mouth 
of the Tembeling river. He incautiously touched 
hands in greeting with a Chief called To' Gajah, and 
the latter, seizing him in an iron grip, held him fast, 
while he was stabbed to death with spears." 5 

In saluting a great Chief, like the Dato' Maharaja 
Perba jlai, the hands are "lifted up in salutation 
with the palms pressed together, as in the attitude 
of Christian prayer, but the tips of the thumbs are 

1 Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 288, superior in rank, it is proper, in draw- 
note, ing back your hands, to bring them at 

8 The bakong is a kind of lily ; the least as high as your chest ; and if the 

sirih is the Malay betel-vine. other is decidedly your superior, even 

3 J.R.A.S., S,B., No. 17, p. 93. as high as your forehead, bending for- 

4 Touching hands is done with both ward somewhat while doing so. 
hands together. If you touch hands 8 Cliff., Stud, in Brown Humanity, 
with a man who is somewhat your p. 175. 


not suffered to ascend beyond the base of the chin. 
In saluting a real Raja, the hands are carried 
higher and higher, according to the prince's rank, 
until, for the Sultan, the tips of the thumbs are on 
a level with the forehead. Little details such as 
these are of immense importance in the eyes of the 
Malays, and not without reason, seeing that in an 
Independent Native State many a man has come by his 
death for carelessness in their observance." l 

In the king's audience hall the formal saluta- 
tions are performed in a sitting posture, and in 
this case, too, the greatest attention is paid to the 
height to which the hands are raised. The chief twice 
makes salutation in a sitting posture as he advances, 
and at the third advance bends over the Sultan's 
hands, two more salutations being made on his way 
back to his place. 

A flagrant infringement of any of the prerogatives 
of the Sultan, such as those I have described, is certain, 
it is thought, to prove fatal, more or less immediately. 

Thus the death of Penghulu Mohit, a well-known 
Malay headman of the Klang district, in Selangor, which 
took place while I was in charge of that district, was 
at the time very generally attributed by the local 
Malays to his usurpation of certain royal privileges 
or prerogatives on the occasion of his daughter's 
wedding. One of these was his acceptance of gift- 

1 Cliff., In Court and Kampong, has passed, for according to Malay ideas 

p. 113, and compare the following : it shows a want of respect in a subject 

"Visitors to Jugra may often in the to remain standing in the presence of 

evening see a party of some 30 or 40 men his Raja" . . . " on replying to His 

coming along the road with His High- Highness natives place the palms of 

ness " [the late Sultan 'Abdulsamad their hands together and so raise them 

of Selangor] " walking a few paces to their forehead, by way of obeisance, 

ahead of them. Should a native meet and this is done even by his own 

the little procession he will squat down children. " Selangor Journal, vol. i. 

at the side of the road until the Sultan No. i, p. 5. 


buffaloes, decorated after the royal fashion, which were 
presented to him as wedding gifts in his daughter's 
honour. These buffaloes had a covering of cloth put 
over them, their horns covered, and a crescent-shaped 
breast -ornament (dokok) hung about their necks. 
Thus dressed they were taken to Mohit's house in 
solemn procession. 1 It was, at the time, considered 
significant that the very first of these gift-buffaloes, 
which had been brought overland from Jugra, where 
the Sultan lived, had died on arrival, and whatever 
the cause may have been, it is a fact that Mohit's 
mother died a day or two after the conclusion of the 
wedding ceremonies, and that Mohit himself was 
taken ill almost immediately and died only about a 
fortnight later. 

The only person who, in former days, was not 
in the least affected by the royal taboos which pro- 
tected the regalia from the common touch was the 
(now I believe extinct) official who held the post of 
Court Physician (Maharaja Lela). He, and he alone, 
might go freely in the royal apartments wherever he 
chose, and the immunity and freedom which he en- 
joyed in this respect passed into a proverb, the ex- 
pression " to act the Court Physician " (buat Maharaja 
Lela) being used to describe an altogether unwarrant- 
able familiarity or impertinence. 

The following story (though I tell it against myself) 
is perhaps the best illustration I can give of the great 
danger supposed to be incurred by those who meddle 
with the paraphernalia of royalty. Among the late 
Sultan's insignia of royalty (in 1897) were a couple of 

1 This dressing up of the buffaloes, their necks, suggests the survival of 
when taken in conjunction with the anthropomorphic ideas about the sacri- 
suspension of the breast-ornament about ficial buffalo. 



drums (gendang] and the long silver trumpet which I 
have already described. Such trumpets are found 
among the kabesaran or regalia of most Malay States, 
and are always, I believe, called lempiri or nempiri 
(Pers. nafiri\ They are considered so sacred that they 
can only be handled or sounded, it is believed, by a 
tribe of Malays called "Orang Kalau," or the " Kalau 
men," 1 as any one else who attempted to sound them 
would be struck dead. Even the " Orang Kalau," 
moreover, can only sound this instrument at the 
proper time and season (e.g. at the proclamation of a 
new sovereign), for if they were to sound it at any 
other time its noise would slay all who heard it, since 
it is the chosen habitation of the " Jin Karaja'an " or 
State Demon, 2 whose delight it would be, if wrongfully 
disturbed, to slay and spare not. 3 

This trumpet and the drums of the Selangor 
regalia were kept by the present Sultan (then Raja 
Muda, or Crown Prince of Selangor) in a small gal- 

1 Among the Malays the use of the 
naubat is confined to the reigning 
Rajas of a few States, and the privi- 
lege is one of the most valuable insignia 
of royalty. In Perak the office of 
musician used to be an hereditary one, 
the performers were called Orang 
Kalauy and a special tax was levied for 
their support (J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 9, 
p. 104). 

2 I was told that these dangerous 
genii or spirits resided in the naubat 
or Big State Drum, the two g?n- 
dang or Small State Drums, the two 
langkara or State Kettle Drums, 
the l/mpiri or State Trumpet, the 
sgrunei or State Flute, and the 
Kris or State Dagger, called (in 
Selangor) tfrok b/rayun, or the 
"Swaying Baboon," which latter is 

said to have slain "a hundred men 
less one" since it was first used. 
[I learnt this from H.H. the late 
Sultan himself, and here record it, 

because it has sometimes been asserted 
that H.H. the Sultan claimed to 
have slain these ninety-nine men with 
his own hand, which H.H. assured 
me was not the case.] The sanctity of 
the remaining pieces of the regalia 
appears to be less marked. They are 
the payong ubor-ubor or State Um- 
brella, the State Trident, and the State 
Lances or tombak bandangan. Of 
the Selangor State Trumpet I was told 
that any one who " brushed hastily past 
it " (siapa-siapa mUlintas-nya} would be 
fined one dollar, even if he were the 
Sultan himself (walo" Sultan-pun ktfna 

8 But in Malay Sketches (p. 2 1 5) we 
read that in Perak the royal instru- 
ments accompany the royal water- 
parties, and that " the royal bugler sits 
on the extreme end of the prow, and 
from time to time blows a call on the 
antique silver trumpet of the regalia." 


vanised iron cupboard which stood (upon posts about 
three feet high) in the middle of a lawn outside His 
Highness' "garden residence " at Bandar. His High- 
ness himself informed me that they had once been kept 
in the house itself, but when there they were the source 
of infinite annoyance and anxiety to the inmates on 
account of their very uncanny behaviour ! 

Drops of perspiration, for instance, would form upon 
the Trumpet when a leading member of the Royal 
House was about to die (this actually happened, as I 
was told, at Langat just before the death of Tungku 
'Chik, the late Sultan's eldest daughter, who died 
during my residence in the neighbourhood). Then 
one Raja Bakar, son of a Raja 'AH, during the re- 
thatching of the house at Bandar, accidentally trod 
upon the wooden barrel of one of the State Drums 
and died in consequence of his inadvertence. When, 
therefore, a hornet's nest formed inside one of these 
same drums it was pretty clear that things were going 
from bad to worse, and a Chinaman was ordered to 
remove it, no Malay having been found willing to risk 
his life in undertaking so dangerous an office an un- 
willingness which was presently justified, as the China- 
man, too, after a few days' interval, swelled up and 
died. Both these strange coincidences were readily 
confirmed by the present Sultan on an occasion 
when I happened to question the authenticity of the 
story, and as His Highness is one of the most en- 
lightened and truthful of men, such confirmation cannot 
easily be set aside. But the strangest coincidence of 
all was to follow, for not long afterwards, having never 
seen that portion of the regalia which was in the Raja 
Muda's charge, I happened to mention to a Malay 
friend of mine at Jugra my wish to be allowed to 


examine these objects, and was at once begged not 
to touch them, on the ground that " no one could say 
what might follow." But shortly after, having occasion 
to visit the Raja Muda at his house at Bandar, I took 
the opportunity of asking whether there was any 
objection to my seeing these much debated objects, 
and as His Highness not only very obligingly assented, 
but offered to show them to me himself, I was able 
both to see and to handle them, His Highness himself 
taking the Trumpet out of its yellow case and handing 
it to me. I thought nothing more of the matter at the 
time, but, by what was really a very curious coincidence, 
within a few days' time of the occurrence, was seized 
with a sharp attack of malarial influenza, the result of 
which was that I was obliged to leave the district, and 
go into hospital at headquarters. In a Malay village 
news spreads quickly, and the report of my indisposi- 
tion, after what was no doubt regarded as an act of 
extraordinary rashness, appears to have made a pro- 
found impression, and the result of it was that a Malay 
who probably considered himself indebted to me for 
some assistance he had received, bound himself by a 
vow to offer sacrifice at the shrine of a famous local 
saint should I be permitted to return to the district. 
Of this, however, I knew nothing at the time, and 
nothing could have exceeded my astonishment when 
I found upon my return that it was my duty to attend 
the banquet which took place at the saint's tomb in 
honour of my own recovery ! l 

Having shown the wide gulf which divides the 

1 TheMalayheadman(Haji Brahim), ceremony. A goat had been killed for 

the priest of the local mosque, the the occasion, and the party who were 

Bilal (an inferior attendant at the paying the vow brought its flesh with 

mosque), and some thirty Malays be- them, together with a great heap of rice 

longing to the village, took part in this stained with saffron (turmeric). The 


" divine man " from his fellows, I have still to point out 
the extent to which certain portions of the human frame 
have come to be invested with sanctity, and to require to 
be treated with special ceremonies. These parts of the 
anatomy are, in particular, the head, the hair, the teeth, 
the ears, and the nails, all of which I will take in their 

The head, in the first place, is undoubtedly still con- 
sidered by the Malays to possess some modified degree 
of sanctity. A proof of this is the custom ( l adat) which 
regulates the extent of the sacrifice to be offered in a 
case of assault or battery by the party committing 
the injury. If any part of the head is injured, nothing 
less than a goat will suffice (the animal being killed and 
both parties bathed in the blood) ; if the upper part of 
the body, the slaughter of a cock (to be disposed of in 
a similar way) will be held to be sufficient reparation, 
and so on, the sacrifice becoming of less value in pro- 
portion as the injured part is farther from the head. 
So, too, Mr. Frazer writes: "The . . . superstition 
(of the sanctity of the head) exists among the Malays ; 
for an early traveller reports that in Java people ' wear 
nothing on their heads, and say that nothing must be on 
their heads, . . . and if any person were to put his 
hand upon their head they would kill him ; and they 
do not build houses with stories in order that they 
may not walk over each other's heads.' It is also found 
in full force throughout Polynesia." 1 

From the principle of the sanctity of the head flows, 
no doubt, the necessity of using the greatest circum- 

men assembled at the tomb, incense was banquet followed, in which we all 

burned, and Arabic prayers read, after took part. 

which a white cloth, five cubits long, l Frazer, Gotten Bough, \o\. i. p. 189. 
was laid on the saint's grave. A 


spection during the process of cutting the hair. 1 Some- 
times throughout the whole life of the wearer, and 
frequently during special periods, the hair is left uncut. 
Thus I was told that in former days Malay men usually 
wore their hair long, and I myself have seen an instance 
of this at Jugra in Selangor in the person of a Malay 2 
of the old school, who was locally famous on this account. 
So, too, during the forty days which must elapse 
before the purification of a woman after the birth of 
her child, the father of the child is forbidden to cut his 
hair, and a similar abstention is said to have been 
formerly incumbent upon all persons either prosecut- 
ing a journey or engaging in war. Often a boy's 
head is entirely shaven shortly after birth with the 
exception of a single lock in the centre of the head, 
and so maintained until the boy begins to grow up, 
but frequently the operation is postponed (generally, 
it is said, in consequence of a vow made by the child's 
parents) until the period of puberty or marriage. Great 
care, too, must be exercised in disposing of the clip- 
pings of hair (more especially \hefirst clippings), as the 
Malay profoundly believes that "the sympathetic con- 
nection which exists between himself and every part 

1 For the ideas referred to in this and to have been for men to wear their hair 
the preceding paragraph, cp. Frazer, op, down to the shoulders (rambut panjang 
fit. vol. i. pp. 187-207. Cp. also for the jijak bahu), but they would frequently 
abstention from hair-cutting at child- wear it below the waist (rambut sa-pifr- 
birth, Clifford's Studies in Brown hfmpasan), in which case it appears to 
Humanity, p. 48. The idea of long have been commonly shorn at puberty 
hair is found even in animistic concep- or marriage. When worn full length 
tions of natural objects. Thus the by men it was usually, for conveni- 
wind (Angiri) is begged in a wind- ence, coiled up inside thejhead-cloth 
charm " to let down its long and or turban (saputangan or tanjak), or 
flowing locks." was made up into rolls or chignons 

2 Raja Berma, son of Raja Jaman of (sanggul dan sipuf) like that of the 
Bandar (Wan Bong). Cp. also Clifford, women. It was not infrequently used 
In Court and Jfampong, p. 1 14, "He as a place of concealment for one of the 
wore his fine black hair long, so that it small Malay poniards called " Pepper- 
hung about his waist." crushers " (tumbok lada), not only by 

The old custom in Selangor is said men but by women. 


of his body continues to exist even after the physical 
connection has been severed, and that therefore he 
will suffer from any harm that may befall the severed 
parts of his body, such as the clippings of his hair or 
the parings of his nails. Accordingly he takes care 
that those severed portions of himself shall not be left 
in places where they might either be exposed to 
accidental injury, or fall into the hands of malicious 
persons who might work magic on them to his 
detriment or death." x 

Thus we invariably find clippings of the victim's hair 
mentioned (together with parings of his nails, etc.) as 
forming part of the ingredients of the well-known wax 
image or mannikin into which pins are stuck, and which 
is still believed by all Malays to be a most effective 
method of causing the illness or death of an enemy. 2 I 
was once present at the curious ceremony of cutting 
the hair of a Malay bride, which had all the character- 
istics of a religious rite, but the detailed account of 
it will be reserved for a later chapter. 3 

The same difficulties and dangers which beset the 
first cutting of the hair apply, though perhaps in a less 
degree, to the first paring of the nails (bertobafc], the bor- 
ing of the ears of girls (bertindek telinga), and the filing 
of the teeth (berasah gigt] of either sex whether at puberty 
or marriage. One or more of the nails are frequently 
worn long by Malays of standing, and the women who 
engage in "nautch" dancing and theatrical perform- 
ances invariably wear a complete set of artificial 
nails (changgei). These latter are usually of brass, 
are often several inches in length, and are made so 

1 Frazer, op. cit. vol. i. p. 193. 8 Vide infra, Chap. VI. pp. 353- 

2 Vide infra, Chap. VI. p. 569, 355, Adolescence. 
se.) etc. 


as to fit on to the tips of the fingers. Occasionally 
a brass ring with a small peacock, or some such bird, of 
the same material will be attached to the end of the 
nail by a minute brass chain. The practice of wear- 
ing long nails is sometimes attributed to Chinese in- 
fluence, but it is hard to see why this particular detail 
of Malay custom, which is quite in keeping with the 
general trend of Malay ideas about the person, should 
be supposed to be derived from China. The borrow- 
ing, if any, is much more likely to have been on the 
part of the Chinese, who undoubtedly imported 
many Indian ideas along with Buddhism. The 
custom appears to be followed, moreover, in many 
places, such as the interior of Sumatra, where Chinese 
influence is non-existent. In Siam, again, it appears 
to obtain very strongly ; l but no reason has yet been 
shown for supposing that this is anything but an 
instance of the similarity of results independently ar- 
rived at by nations starting with similar premisses. 

The ear-boring and tooth-filing ceremonies which 
still not infrequently take place at the age of puberty 
in both sexes are of no less religious import than the 
rite of cutting the first lock. The main details of these 
ceremonies will be described in a later part of this 
book. 2 

To the same category (of sacred things having 
physical connection with the body) should doubtless be 
referred such objects as the eyebrows, the saliva, and 
soil taken from the (naked) footstep, all of which are 
utilised by the magician to achieve his nefarious ends. 

1 " Ces danseurs et ces danseuses ont thumb-nails very long, especially that 

tous des ongles faux, et fort longs, de on their left thumb, for they do never 

cuivre jaune." La Loubere, Royaume cut it, but scrape it often." Dampier's 

de Siam, tome i. pp. 148-150 (quoted Voyages, vol. i. pp. 325, 326. 

by Crawf.,.#z.rf. Indian Arch. i. p. 131). 2 Vide infra, Chap. VI. pp. 355- 

Cp. " They have a custom to wear their 360. 


(c) The Soul 

The Malay conception of the Human Soul 
ngaty- is that of a species of "Thumbling," "a 
thin, unsubstantial human image," or mannikin, which 
is temporarily absent from the body in sleep, trance, 
disease, and permanently absent after death. 

This mannikin, which is usually invisible but is 
supposed to be about as big as the thumb, corresponds 
exactly in shape, proportion, and even in complexion, to 
its embodiment or casing (sarong), i.e. the body in which 
it has its residence. It is of a "vapoury, shadowy, or 
filmy" essence, though not so impalpable but that it may 
cause displacement on entering a physical object, and 
as it can "fly" or "flash" quickly from place to place, 
it is often, perhaps metaphorically, addressed as if it 
were a bird. 2 

Thus in a charm given in the Appendix we find 

" Hither, Soul, come hither ! 
Hither, Little One, come hither ! 
Hither, Bird, come hither ! 
Hither, Filmy One, come hither ! " 3 

As this mannikin is the exact reproduction in every 
way of its bodily counterpart, and is "the cause of life 
and thought in the individual it animates," it may readily 
be endowed with quasi-human feelings, and "independ- 
ently possess the personal consciousness and volition of 

1 Or Sumangat. The derivation of word kur or kerr t by which fowls are 

the word is unknown : possibly it may called, is almost always used ; in fact, 

be connected with sangat, " excessive," " kur sZmangat'" ("cluck! cluck! 

or bangat, "sudden, quick." The soul!") is such a common expression of 

meaning covers both "soul" and "life" astonishment among the Malays that its 

(i.e. not the state of being alive, but the force is little more than "good gracious 

cause thereof or "vital principle"). me !" (vide infra, p. 534, note). 

- In calling the soul, a clucking 3 Vide App. vi. 

sound, represented in Malay by the 


its corporeal owner." Thus we find the following 
appeal addressed to the soul in the charm just 
quoted : 

" Do not bear grudges, 
Do not bear malice, 
Do not take it as a wrong, 
Do not take it as a transgression." 

These quasi-human attributes of the soul being so 
complete, it is an easy stretch of the imagination to 
provide it with a house, which is generally in practice 
identified with the body of its owner, but may also be 
identified with any one of its temporary domiciles. 
Thus in the charm already quoted we read 

" Return to your own House and House-ladder, 
To your own House-floor, of which the planks have started, 
And your Roof-thatch ' starred ' with holes." 

The state of disrepair into which the soul's house 
(i.e. the sick man's body) is described as having fallen, 
is here attributed to the soul's absence. 1 The com- 
pleteness of this figurative identification of the soul's 
" house " with its owner's body, and of the soul's 
" sheath " or casing with both, is very clearly brought 
out in the following lines : 

" Cluck ! cluck ! Soul of this sick man, So-and-so ! 
Return into the Frame and Body of So-and-so^ 
To your own House and House-ladder, to your own Clearing and 

To your own Parents, to your own Casing." 

And this is no mere chance expression, for in another 
charm the soul is adjured in these words : 

1 In another charm we find the sick man's body compared to a weather- 
beaten barque at sea. 


" As you remember your own parents, remember me, 
As you remember your own House and House-ladder, remember 
me." i 

The soul " appears to men (both waking and asleep) 
as a phantom separate from the body of which it bears 
the likeness," " manifests physical power," and walks, 
sits, and sleeps : 

" Cluck ! cluck ! Soul of So-and-so, come and walk with me, 
Come and sit with me, 
Come and sleep with me, and share my pillow. " 2 

It would probably be wrong to assume the fore- 
going expressions to have always been merely figura- 
tive. Rather, perhaps, we should consider them as part 
of a singularly complete and consistent animistic system 
formerly invented and still held by the Malays. Again, 
from the above ideas it follows that if you call a soul in 
the right way it will hear and obey you, and you will 
thus be able either to recall to its owner's body a soul 
which is escaping (riang semangat), or to abduct the 
soul of a person whom you may wish to get into your 
power (mengambil semangat orang], and induce it to 
take up its residence in a specially prepared receptacle, 
such as (a) a lump of earth which has been sympa- 
thetically connected by direct contact with the body of 
the soul's owner, or (<) a wax mannikin so connected 
by indirect means, or even (c) a cloth which has had no 
such connection whatever. And when you have suc- 
ceeded in getting it into your power the abducted and 
now imprisoned soul will naturally enjoy any latitude 

1 Vide App. cclxxi. tion in Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 

2 The entire conception of the soul 387, and hence I have not hesitated to 
among the Malays agrees word for word use his exact words in so far as they 
with Professor Tyler's classical defini- were applicable. 



allowed to (and suffer from any mutilation of) its 
temporary domicile or embodiment. 1 

Every man is supposed (it would appear from 
Malay charms) to possess seven souls 2 in all, or, per- 
haps, I should more accurately say, a sevenfold soul. 3 
This " septenity in unity " may perhaps be held to ex- 
plain the remarkable importance and persistency of the 
number seven in Malay magic, as for instance the 
seven twigs of the birch, and the seven repetitions of 
the charm (in Soul-abduction 4 ), the seven betel leaves, 
the seven nights' duration of the ceremony, the seven 
blows administered to the soul (in other magical and 
medical ceremonies), and the seven ears cut for the 
Rice-soul in reaping. 5 

And, finally, it might explain why the lime-branch 
which is hung up in the mosquito-curtain (in another 
form of soul-abduction 6 ) is required to possess seven 
fruits on a single stalk, i.e. to ensure there being a 
separate receptacle for each one of the seven souls. 

At the present day the ordinary Malay talks usually 
of only a single soul, although he still keeps up the 
old phraseology in his charms and charm-books. For 
the rest, it would appear that there may be some 
method in the selection and arrangement of colours. 

The "lump of earth from the victim's footprint" 
used in one form of the soul-abduction ceremony 7 is to 

1 Cp. Tylor, Prim. Cult. vol. i. Cp. Tylor, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 391, 
p. 422. 392. 

2 What these seven souls were it is 3 Professor Tylor calls this " a 
impossible without more evidence to combination of several kinds of spirit, 
determine. All that can be said is soul, or image, to which different 
that they were most probably seven functions belong "(<?/. cit. vol. i. pp. 391, 
different manifestations of the same 392). 

soul. Such might be the Shadow-soul, 4 Infra, Chap. VI. p. 569. 

the Reflection -soul, the Puppet -soul, 5 Infra, Chap. V. p. 241. 

the Bird-soul (?), the Life-soul, etc, but 6 Infra, Chap. VI. p. 575. 

as yet no evidence is forthcoming. 7 Infra, Chap. VI. p. 568. 


be wrapped up in three thicknesses of cloth, which must 
be red, black, and yellow respectively, the yellow being 
outside. Again (in the ceremony of casting out " the 
mischief" from a sick man), a white cosmetic is assigned 
for use in the morning, a red cosmetic for mid -day, 
and black for sundown. 1 

Now in all, I believe, of what are now called the 
Federated Malay States, and probably in all Malay 
States whatsoever, yellow is the colour used by 
royalty, whereas the more exalted and sacred colour, 
white (with occasional lapses into yellow), has been 
adopted by Malay medicine-men as the colour most 
likely to conciliate the spirits and demons with whom 
they have to deal. Thus the soul-cloth, which, by the 
way, is always five cubits long (lima hasta), is sometimes 
white and (much more rarely) yellow, and hence in the 
first instance just quoted, the yellow cloth, being, next 
to white, of the colour which is most complimentary to 
the demons, is the one which is put outside ; and in 
the second instance, for similar reasons, the white 
cosmetic is to be used first. 

The working out of this system, however, must 
await fresh evidence, and all I would do now is to 
emphasise the importance of colour in such investi- 
gations, and to urge the collection of fresh material. 2 

1 Infra, Chap. VI. p. 431. 

2 We might then expect to get some such table as the following : 

Colours of Cloths /-. , f /-> ,- Colours of Rice 

(used to enwrap the lump , C T^ tf C 9 s {" etlci \ (such as may be used 
of earth from the footprint). < used ^ the slck man >' by medicine-men). 

white white. Highest Colour, 

yellow ... yellow. \ 


red red red. > Medium 

purple or orange I 
green. J 

black black black. Lowest ,, 

Green is not a common colour. Blue ever, the colour assigned to a (fabu- 
appears to be rarely used. It is, how- lous (?)) champaka flower, which 


(d) Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Souls 

Hitherto I have treated of human souls only, 
but animal, mineral, and vegetable souls will now be 
briefly discussed. Speaking generally, I believe the 
soul to be, within certain limits, conceived as a 
diminutive but exact counterpart of its own em- 
bodiment, so that an Animal-soul would be like an 
animal, a Bird-soul like a bird ; however, lower in the 
scale of creation it would appear that the Tree- or 
Ore-souls, for instance, are supposed, occasionally at 
least, to assume the shape of some animal or bird. 
Thus the soul of Eagle -wood is thought to take the 
shape of a bird, the soul of Tin-ore that of a buffalo, 
the Gold-soul that of a deer. 1 It has, how- 
ever, always been recognised that the soul may 
enter other bodies besides its own, or even bodies 
of a different kind to its own, and hence these 
may be only apparent exceptions to the rule that 
the soul should be the counterpart of its own embodi- 
ment. 2 

"Among races within the limits of savagery, the 
general doctrine of souls is found worked out with 
remarkable breadth and consistency. The souls of 
animals are recognised by a natural extension from 
the theory of human souls ; the souls of trees and 
plants follow in some vague, partial way, and the 

is supposed to be the rarest of its kind be explained by the " notion of a vege- 

(vide p. 29 n. supra). Orange (jingga] is table soul, common to plants and to the 

also extremely rare, though it is oc- higher organisms, possessing an animal 

casionally used for certain decorative soul in addition " ? and are we to take 

work (e.g. small wedding-pillows). this as only "one more instance of the 

1 Infra, Chap. V. pp. 211,250, 251. fuller identification of the souls of 

2 Or is this phenomenon of a bird- plants with the souls of animals"? 
shaped soul inhabiting certain trees to Tylor, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 428, 429. 


souls of inanimate objects expand the general cate- 
gory to its extremest boundary." 1 

To the Malay who has arrived at the idea of a 
generally animated Nature, but has not yet learned to 
draw scientific distinctions, there appears nothing 
remarkable or unnatural in the idea of vegetation-souls, 
or even in that of mineral -souls rather would he 
consider us Europeans illogical and inconsistent were 
he told that we allowed the possession of souls to one 
half of the creation and denied it to the other. 

Realising this, we are prepared to find that the 
Malay theory of Animism embraces, at least partially, 
the human race, 2 animals 3 and birds, 4 vegetation 5 (trees 
and plants), reptiles and fishes, 6 until its extension to 
inert objects, such as minerals, 7 and " stocks and stones, 
weapons, boats, food, clothes, ornaments, and other 
objects, which to us are not merely soulless, but life- 
less," brings us face to face with a conception with 
which " we are less likely to sympathise." 

Side by side with this general conception of an uni- 
versally animate nature, we find abundant evidences of 
a special theory of Human Origin which is held to 
account not only for the larger mammals, but also for 
the existence of a large number of birds, and even for 
that of a few reptiles, fishes, trees and plants, but 
seems to lose its operative force in proportion to its 
descent in the scale of creation, until in the lowest 
scale of all, the theory of Human Origin disappears 

1 Professor Tylor's pregnant phrase- subject, ibid. p. 423. Prim. Cult. 

ology in this connection is entirely ap- vol. i. p. 422. 

plicable to the Malays, who "talk 2 Infra Medicine, Divination, etc. 

quite seriously to beasts alive or dead 3 Infra 

as they would to men alive or dead, * Infra 

offer them homage, ask pardon when it 5 Infra 

is their painful duty to hunt and kill e Infra 

them. " Cp. also his remarks upon this 7 Infra 

Hunting charms. 
Fowling charms. 
Vegetation charms. 
Fishing charms. 
Mining charms. 


from sight, and nothing remains but the partial ap- 
plication of a few vague anthropomorphic attributes. 1 
It is, doubtless, to the prevalence of this theory that 
we owe the extraordinary persistence of anthropo- 
morphic ideas about animals, birds, reptiles, trees, if 
not of minerals, in Malay magical ceremonies ; 2 and 
it is hard to say which of these two notions the 
theory of Human Origin, or the other theory of Uni- 
versal Animism is to be considered the original form 
of Malay belief. 

The following tale, which is entitled Charitra 
Megat Sajobang, and is told by Selangor Malays, will 
serve as an illustration of the idea of Human Origin : 

" There was a married Sakai couple living at Ulu 
Klang, and they had a son called Megat Sajobang. 
When he grew up he said to his mother, ' Mother, get 
me a passage, I want to go and see other countries.' 
She did so, and he left Ulu Klang ; and ten or twelve 
years later, when he had grown rich enough to buy a 
splendid ship (p'rafat), he returned with his wife, who 
was with child, and seven midwives, who were watched 
over by one of his body-guard with a drawn sword. 
His mother heard the news of his return, and she made 
ready, roasting a chika (monkey) and lotong (monkey), 
and went with his father on board their bark canoe to 
meet their son. 

" As they approached they hailed him by his name ; 
but he was ashamed of their humble appearance, and 
forbade his men to let them on board. Though his 
wife advised him to acknowledge them, ' even if they 

1 The central idea of this conception which they were not invariably them - 

appears to be that these animals, birds, selves responsible, 
and trees were once human beings, but 2 Vide introductory remarks to 

were turned into their present shapes Hunting, Fowling, Fishing, Planting, 

by reason of some wrongful act for and Mining charms. 


were pigs or dogs,' the unfilial son persisted in turning 
them away. So they went back to the shore and sat 
down and wept ; and the old mother, laying her hand 
upon her shrivelled breast, said, ' If thou art really my 
son, reared at my breast, mayest thou be changed into 
stone.' In response to her prayer, milk came forth 
from her breast, and as she walked away, the ship and 
all on board were turned into stone. The mother 
turned round once more to look at her son, but the 
father did not, and by the power of God they were 
both turned into trees of the species pauh (a kind of 
mango) one leaning seawards and the other towards 
the land. The fruit of the seaward one is sweet, but 
that of the landward one is bitter. 

" The ship has now become a hill, and originally 
was complete with all its furniture, but the Malays used 
to borrow the plates and cups, etc., for feast days and 
did not return them, until at last there were none left." 


(a) The Magician 

" THE accredited intermediary between men and 
spirits is the Pawang ; l the Pawang is a functionary of 
great and traditional importance in a Malay village, 
though in places near towns the office is falling into 
abeyance. In the inland districts, however, the 
Pawang is still a power, and is regarded as part 
of the constituted order of society, without whom no 
village community would be complete. It must be 
clearly understood that he has nothing whatever to do 
with the official Muhammadan religion of the mosque ; 
the village has its regular staff of elders the Imam, 
Khatib, and Bilal for the mosque service. But the 
Pawang is quite outside this system, and belongs to a 
different and much older order of ideas ; he may be 
regarded as the legitimate representative of the primi- 
tive ' medicine - man ' or ' village -sorcerer,' and his 
very existence in these days is an anomaly, though it 
does not strike Malays as such. 

1 " The titles Pawang and Bomor are The Bomor usually practise their art 

given by the Malays to their medicine for the cure of human disease. Both 

men. The Pawang class perform magic terms are, however, often used as though 

practices in order to find ore, medicine they were interchangeable." Clifford, 

crops, or ensure good takes of fish, etc. Hik. Raja Budiman, pt. ii. p. 28 n. 


"Very often the office is hereditary, or at least the 
appointment is practically confined to the members of 
one family. Sometimes it is endowed with certain 
1 properties ' handed down from one Pawang to his 
successor, known as the kabesaran, or, as it were, 
regalia. On one occasion I was nearly called upon to 
decide whether these adjuncts which consisted, in 
this particular case, of a peculiar kind of head-dress 
were the personal property of the person then in pos- 
session of them (who had got them from his father, a 
deceased Pawang], or were to be regarded as official 
insignia descending with the office in the event of the 
natural heir declining to serve ! Fortunately I was 
spared the difficult task of deciding this delicate point 
of law, as I managed to persuade the owner to take up 
the appointment. 

11 But quite apart from such external marks of dig- 
nity, the Pawang is a person of very real significance. 
In all agricultural operations, such as sowing, reaping, 
irrigation works, and the clearing of jungle for plant- 
ing, in fishing at sea, in prospecting for minerals, and 
in cases of sickness, his assistance is invoked. He is 
entitled by custom to certain small fees ; thus, after a 
good harvest he is allowed, in some villages, five 
gantangs of padi, one gantang of rice (beras\ and two 
chupaks of emping (a preparation of rice and cocoa-nut 
made into a sort of sweetmeat) from each householder. 
After recovery from sickness his remuneration is the 
very modest amount of tiga wang baharu, that is, 7^ 

"It is generally believed that a good harvest can 
only be secured by complying with his instructions, 
which are of a peculiar and comprehensive character. 

" They consist largely of prohibitions, which are 


known as pantang. Thus, for instance, it is pantang in 
some places to work in the rice-field on the i4th and 
1 5th days of the lunar month ; and this rule of enforced 
idleness, being very congenial to the Malay character, 
is, I believe, pretty strictly observed. 

"Again, in reaping, certain instruments are pro- 
scribed, and in the inland villages it is regarded as a 
great crime to use the sickle (sabif) for cutting the 
padi ; at the very least the first few ears should be cut 
with a tuai, a peculiar small instrument consisting of a 
semicircular blade set transversely on a piece of wood 
or bamboo, which is held between the fingers, and 
which cuts only an ear or two at a time. Also the 
padi must not be threshed by hitting it against the in- 
side of a box, a practice known as banting padi. 

"In this, as in one or two other cases, it may be 
supposed that the Pawangs ordinances preserve the 
older forms of procedure and are opposed to innova- 
tions in agricultural methods. The same is true of 
the pantang (i.e. taboo) rule which prescribes a fixed 
rate of price at which padi may be sold in the village 
community to members of the same village. This 
system of customary prices is probably a very old relic 
of a time when the idea of asking a neighbour or a 
member of your own tribe to pay a competition price 
for an article was regarded as an infringement of com- 
munal rights. It applies to a few other articles of 
local produce l besides padi, and I was frequently as- 

1 In Bukit Senggeh the articles subject to this custom are priced as follows : 
Padi (unhusked rice) . 3 cents a gantang (about a gallon). 
B?ras (husked rice) . 10 cents a gantang. 

Kabong (i.e. palm) sugar 2\ cents a " buku " of two pieces and weigh- 
ing a kati (l Ib. avoir.) 
Cocoa-nuts . . I cent each. 

Hen's eggs . . i cent eac h- 
Duck's eggs . . I cent each. 


sured that the neglect of this wholesome rule was the 
cause of bad harvests. I was accordingly pressed to 
fine transgressors, which would perhaps have been a 
somewhat difficult thing to do. The fact, however, 
that in many places these rules are generally observed 
is a tribute to the influence of the Pawang who lends 
his sanction to them." 1 

" The Pawang keeps a familiar spirit, which in his 
case is a hantu piisaka, that is, an hereditary spirit 
which runs in the family, in virtue of which he is able 
to deal summarily with the wild spirits of an obnoxious 
character." 1 

The foregoing description is so precise and clear 
that I have not much to add to it. There are, how- 
ever, one or two points which require emphasis. One 
of these is that the priestly magician stands in certain 
respects on the same footing as the divine man or 
king that is to say, he owns certain insignia which are 
exactly analogous to the regalia of the latter, and are, 
as Mr. Blagden points out, called by the same name 
(kabesaran). He shares, moreover, with the king the 
right to make use of cloth dyed with the royal colour 
(yellow), and, like the king, too, possesses the right to 
enforce the use of certain ceremonial words and phrases, 
in which respect, indeed, his list is longer, if anything, 
than that of royalty. 

He also acts as a sort of spirit-medium and gives 
oracles in trances ; possesses considerable political in- 
fluence ; practises (very occasional) austerities ; observes 
some degree of chastity, and appears quite sincere in 
his conviction of his own powers. At least he always 
has a most plausible excuse ready to account for his 

1 C. O. Blagden mJ.R.A.S., S.B., No. 29, pp. 5-7. 
2 Ibid. p. 4. 


inability to do whatever is required. An aged magician 
who came from Perak to doctor one of H.H. the 
Sultan's sons (Raja Kahar) while I was at Langat, had 
the unusual reputation of being able to raise a sand- 
bank in the sea at will ; but when I asked if I could see 
it done, he explained that it could only be done in time 
of war when he was hard pressed by an enemy's boat, 
and he could not do it for the sake of mere ostentation ! 
Moreover, like members of their profession all the 
world over, these medicine-men are, perhaps naturally, 
extremely reticent ; it was seldom that they would let 
their books be seen, much less copied, even for fair 
payment, and a Pawang once refused to tell me a 
charm until I had taken my shoes off and was seated 
with him upon a yellow cloth while he repeated the 
much-prized formula. 

The office of magician is, as has been said, very 
often hereditary. It is not so always, however, there 
being certain recognised ways in which a man may 
" get magic." One of the most peculiar is as follows : 
" To obtain magical powers ('etmu) you must meet the 
ghost of a murdered man. Take the midrib of a leaf 
of the ' ivory ' cocoa-nut palm (pelepak niyor gading), 
which is to be laid on the grave, and two more midribs, 
which are intended to represent canoe-paddles, and 
carry them with the help of a companion to the grave 
of the murdered man at the time of the full moon (the 
1 5th day of the lunar month) when it falls upon a Tues- 
day. Then take a cent's worth of incense, with 
glowing embers in a censer, and carry them to the 
head-post of the grave of the deceased. Fumigate 
the grave, going three times round it, and call upon 
the murdered man by name : 


' Hearken, So-and-so, 
And assist me ; 

I am taking (this boat) to the saints of God, 
And I desire to ask for a little magic.' 1 

Here take the first midrib, fumigate it, and lay it upon 
the head of the grave, repeating ' Kur Allah ' (' Cluck, 
cluck, God ! ') seven times. You and your companion 
must now take up a sitting posture, one at the head 
and the other at the foot of the grave, facing the grave 
post, and use the canoe- paddles which you have 
brought. In a little while the surrounding scenery 
will change and take upon itself the appearance of the 
sea, and finally an aged man will appear, to whom 
you must address the same request as before." 

(6) High Places 

" Although officially the religious centre of the 
village community is the mosque, there is usually 
in every small district a holy place known as the 
kramat? at which vows are paid on special occasions, 
and which is invested with a very high degree of 
reverence and sanctity. 

1 The Malay version runs : to get whatever he wishes for, who is 
"Jfet angkau Si Anu, able to foretell events, and whose 

Tolong-lah aku presence brings good fortune to all his 

Aku bawakan kapada anlia Allah, surroundings. District officers will be 

Aku 'na& minta *elmu sadikit." proud to know that in this last sense 

This method of getting magic is an the word is occasionally applied to 

exact transcription of the words in them. When the name kramat is 

which it was dictated to me by a Kel- applied to a place, I understand it to 

antan Malay ('Che 'Abas) then residing mean a holy place, a place of pilgrim- 

at KJanang in Selangor. age ; but it does not necessarily mean 

2 Cp. Mr. G. C. Bellamy in Selangor a grave, as many people think. I can 
Journal, vol. ii. No. 6, p. 90, who quote the kramat at Batu Ampar, Jugra, 
says: " The word kramat, as applied and numerous places on river banks 
to a man or woman, may be roughly where no graves exist, but yet they are 
translated prophet or magician. It is called kramat "s." [There is, however, 
difficult to convey the real idea, as a tradition that a saint's leg was 
Malays call a man kramat who is able buried at Batu Ham par ! W. S.] 


" These kramats abound in Malacca territory ; there 
is hardly a village but can boast some two or three in 
its immediate neighbourhood, and they are perfectly 
well known to all the inhabitants. 

" Theoretically, kramats are supposed to be the 
graves of deceased holy men, the early apostles of the 
Muhammadan faith, the first founders of the village 
who cleared the primeval jungle, or other persons of 
local notoriety in a former age ; and there is no doubt 
that many of them are that and nothing more. But 
even so, the reverence paid to them and the ceremonies 
that are performed at them savour a good deal too 
much of ancestor-worship to be attributable to an 
orthodox Muhammadan origin. 

" It is certain, however, that many of these kramats 
are not graves at all : many of them are in the jungle, 
on hills and in groves, like the high places of the Old 
Testament idolatries ; they contain no trace of a grave 
(while those that are found in villages usually have 
grave-stones), and they appear to be really ancient 
sites of a primitive nature- worship or the adoration of 
the spirits of natural objects. 

" Malays, when asked to account for them, often 
have recourse to the explanations that they are kramat 
jin, that is, " spirit "-places ; and if a Malay is pressed 
on the point, and thinks that the orthodoxy of these 
practices is being impugned, he will sometimes add that 
the/zVz in question is &jin is lam, a Muhammadan and 
quite orthodox spirit ! 

" Thus on Bukit Nyalas, near the Johol frontier, 
there is a kramat consisting of a group of granite 
boulders on a ledge of rock overhanging a sheer descent 
of a good many feet ; bamboo clumps grow on the 
place, and there were traces of religious rites having 


been performed there, but no grave whatever. This 
place was explained to me to be the kramat of one 
Nakhoda Hussin, described as a jin (of the orthodox 
variety), who presides over the water, rain, and streams. 
People occasionally burned incense there to avert 
drought and get enough water for irrigating their 
fields. There was another kramat of his lower down 
the hill, also consisting of rocks, one of which was 
shaped something like a boat. I was informed that 
\h\sjin is attended by tigers which guard the hill, and 
are very jealous of the intrusion of other tigers from 
the surrounding country. He is believed to have 
revealed himself to the original Pawang of the village, 
the mythical founder of the kampong of Nyalas. In a 
case like this it seems probable that the name attached 
to this object of reverence is a later accretion, and that 
under a thin disguise we have here a relic of the wor- 
ship of the spirit of rivers and streams, a sort of 
elemental deity localised in this particular place, and 
still regarded as a proper object of worship and pro- 
pitiation, in spite of the theoretically strict monotheism 
of the Muhammadan creed. Again, at another place 
the kramat is nothing but a tree, of somewhat singular 
shape, having a large swelling some way up the trunk. 
It was explained to me that this tree was connected in 
a special way with the prospects of local agriculture, 
the size of the swelling increasing in good years and 
diminishing in bad seasons ! Hence it was naturally 
regarded with considerable awe by the purely agricul- 
tural population of the neighbourhood. 

" As may be imagined, it is exceedingly difficult to 
discover any authentic facts regarding the history of 
these numerous kramats : even where there is some 
evidence of the existence of a grave, the name of the 


departed saint is usually the one fact that is remembered, 
and often even that is forgotten. The most celebrated 
of the Malacca kramats, the one at Machap, is a 
representative type of the first class, that in which there 
really is a grave : it is the one place where a hardened 
liar respects the sanctity of an oath, and it is occasion- 
ally visited in connection with civil cases, when the one 
party challenges the other to take a particular oath. A 
man who thinks nothing of perjuring himself in the 
witness-box, and who might not much mind telling a 
lie even with the Koran on his head, will flinch before 
the ordeal of a falsehood in the presence of the Dato' 
Machap." 1 

After explaining the difference between beneficent 
spirits and the spirits of evil, Mr. Blagden continues : 
" Some time ago one of these objectionable hantus 
(spirits of evil) had settled down in a kerayong tree in 
the middle of this village of Bukit Senggeh, and used 
to frighten people who passed that way in the dusk ; 
so the Pawang was duly called upon to exorcise it, and 
under his superintendence the tree was cut down, after 
which there was no more trouble. But it is certain 
that it would have been excessively dangerous for an 
ordinary layman to do so. 

" This point may be illustrated by a case which was 
reported to me soon after it occurred, and which again 
shows the intimate connection of spirits with trees. 
A Javanese coolie, on the main road near Ayer Panas, 
cut down a tree which was known to be occupied by a 
hantu. He was thereupon seized with what, from 
the description, appears to have been an epileptic fit, 
and showed all t, $\f ^aditional symptoms of demoniac 

1 C. O. Blagden &J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 29, pp. 1-3. 


possession. He did not recover till his friends had 
carried out the directions of the spirit, speaking through 
the sufferer's mouth, it seems, viz., to burn incense, 
offer rice, and release a fowl. After which the hantu 
left him. 

"In many places there are trees which are pretty 
generally believed to be the abodes of spirits, and not 
one Malay in ten would venture to cut one down, 
while most people would hardly dare to go near one 
after dark. On one occasion an exceptionally intelli- 
gent Malay, with whom I was discussing the terms on 
which he proposed to take up a contract for clearing 
the banks of a river, made it an absolute condition that 
he should not be compelled to cut down a particular 
tree which overhung the stream, on the ground that it 
was a 'spirit' tree. That tree had to be excluded 
from the contract." l 

The following description, by Sir W. Maxwell, of a 
Perak kramat may be taken as fairly typical of the 
kramat, in which there really is a grave : 

" Rightly or wrongly the Malays of Larut assign 
an Achinese origin to an old grave which was dis- 
covered in the forest some years ago, and of which I 
propose to give a brief description. It is situated 
about half-way between the Larut Residency and the 
mining village of Kamunting. In the neighbourhood 
the old durian trees of Java betoken the presence of a 
Malay population at a date long prior to the advent of 
the Chinese miner. The grave was discovered about 
twenty years ago by workmen employed by the 
Mentri of Perak to make the Kamunting road, and 
it excited much curiosity among the Malays at the 

1 C. O. Blagden in J.R.A.S., S.&., No. 29, pp. 4, 5. 


time. The Mentri and all the ladies of his family 
went on elephants to see it, and it has been an object 
of much popular prestige ever since. 

"The Malays of Java were able from the village 
tradition to give the name and sex of the occupant of 
this lonely tomb, ' Toh Bidan Susu Lanjut/ whose 
name sounds better in the original than in an English 
translation. She is said to have been an old Achinese 
woman of good family ; of her personal history nothing 
is known, but her claims to respectability are evinced 
by the carved head and foot stones of Achinese work- 
manship which adorn her grave, and her sanctity is 
proved by the fact that the stones are eight feet apart. 
It is a well-known Malay superstition that the stones 
placed to mark the graves of Saints miraculously 
increase their relative distance during the lapse of 
years, and thus bear mute testimony to the holiness of 
the person whose resting-place they mark. 

" The kramat on the Kamunting road is on the 
spur of a hill through which the roadway is cut. A 
tree overshadows the grave and is hung with strips of 
white cloth and other rags (panji panjt] which the 
devout have put there. The direction of the grave is 
as nearly as possible due north and south. The stones 
at its head and foot are of the same size, and in every 
respect identical one with the other. They are of sand- 
stone, and are said by the natives to have been 
brought from Achin. In design and execution they 
are superior to ordinary Malay art, as will be seen, I 
think, on reference to the rubbings of the carved 
surface of one of them, which have been executed for 
me by the Larut Survey Office, and which I have 
transmitted to the Society with this paper. The 
extreme measurements of the stones (furnished from 


the same source) are 2' i" x o' 9" x o' 7". They 
are in excellent preservation, and the carving is fresh 
and sharp. Some Malays profess to discover in the 
three rows of vertical direction on the broadest face of 
the slabs the Mohammedan attestation of the unity of 
God (La ilaka illa-lla) repeated over and over again ; 
but I confess that I have been unable to do so. The 
offerings at a kramat are generally incense (istangi or 
satangi) or benzoin (kaminian) ; these are burned in 
little stands made of bamboo rods ; one end is stuck in 
the ground and the other split into four or five, and 
then opened out and plaited with basket work so as 
to hold a little earth. They are called sangka ; a 
Malay will often vow that if he succeeds in some 
particular project, or gets out of some difficulty in 
which he may happen to be placed, he will burn three 
or more sangka at such and such a kramat. Persons 
who visit a kramat in times of distress or difficulty, to 
pray and to vow offerings, in case their prayers are 
granted, usually leave behind them as tokens of their 
vows small pieces of white cloth, which are tied to 
the branches of a tree or to sticks planted in the 
ground near the sacred spot. For votary purposes 
the long-forgotten tomb of Toh Bidan Susu Lanjut 
enjoys considerable popularity among the Mohamme- 
dans of Larut ; and the tree which overshadows it 
has, I am glad to say, been spared the fate which 
awaited the rest of the jungle which overhung the 
road. No coolie was bold enough to put an axe to 
it." 1 

Mr. George Bellamy, writing in 1893, thus described 
the kramat at Tanjong Karang in the Kuala Selangor 
district : 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 2, p. 236. 


" The kramat about which I am now writing is a 
very remarkable one. It is situated on the extreme 
point of land at the mouth of the river Selangor, close 
to where the new lighthouse has been erected. A 
magnificent kayu ara (a kind of fig-tree) forms a 
prominent feature of the tanjong (point or cape), and 
at the base of this tree, enveloped entirely by its 
roots, is an oblong-shaped space having the appear- 
ance of a Malay grave, with the headstones complete. 
.... To this sacred spot constant pilgrimages are 
made by the Malays, and the lower branches of the 
tree rarely lack those pieces of white and yellow cloth 
which are always hung up as an indication that some 
devout person has paid his vows. The Chinese also 
have great respect for this kramat, and have erected 
a sort of sylvan temple at the foot of the tree." Mr. 
Bellamy tells how one Raja 'Abdullah fell in love 
with a maiden named Miriam, who disappeared and 
was supposed to have been taken by the spirits 
(though she was really carried off by an earlier lover 
named Hassan). Raja 'Abdullah died and was buried 
at the foot of the fig-tree. Mr. Bellamy concludes : 
"If you ever happen to see a very big crocodile at 
the mouth of the Selangor river, floating listlessly 
about, be careful not to molest it : it is but the buaya 
kramat, which shape the spirit of Raja Abdullah 
sometimes assumes. When walking along the pantai 
(shore), if you chance to meet a very large tiger let 
him pass unharmed. It is only Raja Abdullah's 
ghost, and in proof thereof you will see it leaves 
no footmarks on the sand. And when you go 
to see the new lighthouse at Tanjong Kramat, 
you may perhaps come face to face with a very- 
old man, who sadly shakes his head and dis- 


appears. Do not be startled, it is only Raja 
Abdullah." 1 

In No. 2 of the same volume of the Selangor 
Journal Mr. Bellamy refers to another kramat that of 
'Toh Ketapang which he appears to localise in Ulu 

It is by no means necessary to ensure the popu- 
larity of a kramat or shrine that the saint to whose 
memory it is dedicated should be a Malay. The 
cosmopolitan character of these shrines is attested in 
the following note which I sent to the Selangor Jour- 
nal* about the shrines in the Ulu Langat (Kajang) 
district of Selangor : 

" The chief kramats in the district are ' Makam 
'Toh Sayah ' (the tomb of a Javanese of high repute) ; 
' Makam Said Idris,' at Rekoh, Said Idris being the 
father of the Penghulu of Cheras ; ' Makam 'Toh 
Janggut (a 'Kampar' man), on the road to Cheras; 
and ' Makam 'Toh Gerdu or Berdu,' at Dusun Tua, 
Ulu Langat. 'Toh Berdu was of Sakai origin." 

I have never yet, however, heard of any shrine 
being dedicated to a Chinaman, and it is probable 
that this species of canonisation is confined (at least 
in modern times) to local celebrities professing the 
Muhammadan religion, as would certainly be the case 
of the Malays and Javanese mentioned in the fore- 
going paragraph, and quite possibly too in the case of 
the Sakai. 

It is true that Chinese often worship at these 
shrines just as, on the same principle, they employ 
Malay magicians in prospecting for tin ; but there 
appear to be certain limits beyond which they 

1 Selangor Journal, vol. ii. No. 6, p. 90, stqq. 
2 Ibid. vol. v. No. 19, p. 308. 


cannot go, as it was related to me when I was 
living in the neighbourhood, that a Chinaman who 
had, in the innocence of his heart, offered at a 
Moslem shrine a piece of the accursed pork, was 
pounced upon and slain before he reached home by 
one of the tigers which guarded the shrine. 

The shrine of 'Toh Kamarong is one of the most 
celebrated shrines in the Langat district, the saint's 
last resting-place being guarded by a white elephant 
and a white tiger, the latter of which had been a pet 
(pemainan) of his during his lifetime. In this respect 
it is exactly similar to the shrine of 'Toh Parwi of 
Pantei in Sungei Ujong, which is similarly guarded, 
both shrines having been erected on the seashore, it is 
said, in the days when the sea came much farther inland 
than it does at present. The fame of 'Toh Kamarong 
filled the neighbourhood, and it is related that on 
one occasion an irate mother exclaimed, of a son of 
hers who was remarkable for his vicious habits, " May 
the 'Toh Kramat Kamarong fly away with him." 
Next day the boy disappeared, and all search proved 
fruitless, until three days later 'Toh Kamarong 
appeared to her in a dream, and informed her that 
he had carried the boy off, as she had invited him to 
do, and that if she were to look for his footprints she 
would be able to discover them inside the pad-tracks 
of a tiger one of whose feet was smaller than the rest, 
and which was then haunting the spot. She did so, 
and discovered her son's footprints exactly as the 
saint had foretold. This Ghost-tiger, which no doubt 
must be identified with 'Toh Kamarong's "pet," used 
to roam the district when I was stationed in the 
neighbourhood, and both I and, I believe, the then 
District Engineer (Mr. Spearing), saw this tiger's 


tracks, and can vouch for the fact that one footprint was 
smaller than the rest. This curious feature is thought 
by the local Malays at least, to be one of the speci- 
ally distinctive marks of a rimau kramat, or Ghost- 
tiger, just as the possession of one tusk that is 
smaller than the other is the mark of a Ghost- 
elephant. 1 

Closely connected with the subject of shrines is that 
of high places, such as those spots where religious 
penance was traditionally practised. One of these 
sacred spots is said to have been situated upon 
the " Mount Ophir" of Malacca, which is about 4000 
feet high, and on which a certain legendary Princess 
known as Tuan Putri Gunong Ledang is said to have 
dwelt, until she transferred her ghostly court to Jugra 
Hill, upon the coast of Selangor. 2 

Such fasting-places are usually, as in Java, either 
solitary hills or places which present some great 
natural peculiarity ; even remarkable trees and rocks 
being, as has already been pointed out, pressed into 
the service of this Malay "natural religion." 

(c) Nature of Rites 

The main divisions of the magico- religious cere- 
monies of the Malays are prayer, sacrifice, lustration, 
fasting, divination, and possession. 

Prayer, which is defined by Professor Tylor as " a 
request made to a deity as if he were a man," is still 
in the unethical stage among the Malays ; no request 

1 Infra, Chap. V. pp. 153, 163. cat, sometimes as a young and beauti- 

2 The local Malacca tradition repre- fill girl dressed in silk. She can trans- 
sents her as still haunting her original form her cat into a tiger if people 
seat. She is said to appear sometimes molest her. J.ft.A.S., S.B., No. 24, 
in the shape of an old woman with a pp. 165, 166 ; No. 32, pp. 213, 214. 


for anything but personal advantages of a material 
character being ever, so far as I am aware, preferred 
by the worshipper. The efficacy of prayer is, how- 
ever, often supposed to be enhanced by repetition. 

" As prayer is a request made to a deity as if he 
were a man, so sacrifice is a gift made to a deity as 

if he were a man The ruder conception 

that the deity takes and values the offering for itself, 
gives place, on the one hand, to the idea of mere 
homage as expressed by a gift, and, on the other, to 
the negative view that the virtue lies in the worshipper 
depriving himself of something prized." l 

A general survey of the charms and ceremonies 
brought together in this volume will, I think, be likely 
to establish the view that the Malays (in accordance 
with the reported practice of many other races) prob- 
ably commenced with the idea of sacrifice as a 
simple gift, and therefrom developed first the idea 
of ceremonial homage, and later the idea of sacrifice 
as an act of abnegation. Evidences of the original 
gift-theory chiefly survive in the language of charms, 
in which the deity appealed to is repeatedly invited 
to eat and drink of the offerings placed before him, 
as a master may be invited to eat by his servants. 
The intermediate stage between the gift and homage 
theories is marked by an extensive use of "sub- 
stitutes," and of the sacrifice of a part or parts for 
the whole. Thus we even find the dough model 
of a human being actually called "the substitute" 
(tukar ganti], and offered up to the spirits upon the 
sacrificial tray ; in the same sense are the significant 
directions of a magician, that " if the spirit craves a 
human victim a cock may be substituted," and the 

1 Tylor, Prim. Cult. vol. ii. p. 340. 


custom of hunters who, when they have killed a deer, 
leave behind them in the forest small portions of each 
of the more important members of the deer's anatomy, 
as "representatives" of the entire carcase. In this last 
case the usual " ritualistic change may be traced from 
practical reality to formal ceremony." " The originally 
valuable offering is compromised for a smaller tribute 
or a cheaper substitute, dwindling at last to a mere 
trifling token or symbol." l 

This homage -theory will, I believe, be found to 
cover by far the greater bulk of the sacrifices usually 
offered by Malays, and the idea of abnegation appears 
to be practically confined to votal ceremonies or vows 
(niat\ in which the nature and extent of the offering 
are not regulated by custom, but depend entirely upon 
the wealth or caprice of the worshipper, there being 
merely a tacit understanding that he shall sacrifice 
something which is of more than nominal value to 

Of the manner in which offerings are supposed to 
be received by the deity to whom they are offered 
it is difficult to obtain very much evidence. I have, 
however, frequently questioned Malays upon this sub- 
ject, and on the whole think it can very safely be said 
that the deity is not supposed to touch the solid or 
material part of the offering, but only the essential part, 
whether it be " life, savour, essence, quality " or even 
the "soul." 

It will perhaps be advisable, in order to avoid repe- 
tition, to describe a few of the special and distinctive 
sub-rites which form part of many of the more import- 
ant ceremonies, such as (in particular), rites performed 
at shrines, the rite of burning incense, the scattering 

1 Tylor, Prim. Cult. vol. ii. p. 341. 


of (or banqueting upon) sacrificial rice, and the appli- 
cation of the "Neutralising" Rice-paste (tepong 

Of the rites performed at shrines, Mr. Blagden 
says : " The worship there, as with most other kramats, 
consists of the burning of incense, the offering of nasi 
kunyet (yellow rice), and the killing of goats ; but I also 
noticed a number of live pigeons there which illustrate 
the practice, common in Buddhist countries, of releas- 
ing an animal in order to gain 'merit' thereby." At 
a shrine on the Langat river I have seen fowls which 
had (I was told) been similarly released. 

Mr. Blagden's remarks apply with equal force to 
the services performed at the shrines of Selangor, and 
I believe also of other States. It should, however, 
I think, be pointed out that the nasi kunyit (yellow 
rice) is, usually at all events, eaten by those who take 
part in the service. At a ceremony which was held on 
one occasion after my recovery from sickness, and in 
which, by request, I took part, 1 incense was burnt, 
and Muhammadan prayers chanted, after which 
the usual strip of white cloth (five cubits in length) 
was laid upon the saint's grave (the saint being the 
father of the present Sultan of Selangor), and the party 
then adjourned to a shelter some twenty or thirty yards 
lower down the hill, where, first the men, and then the 
women and children, partook of the flesh of the 
slaughtered goat and the saffron-stained rice (pulut}. 
After the meal the Bilal (mosque attendant, who was 
present with the Malay headman and the local priest 
of the mosque), returned to the tomb, and making 
obeisance, recited a Muhammadan prayer, craving per- 

1 Vide supra, Chap. II. p. 42. 


mission to take the cloth back for his own use, which 
he presently did. These Bilals are needy men and 
live upon the alms of the devout, so I suppose he 
thought there was no reason why the saint should not 
contribute something to his support. 

The burning of incense is one of the very simplest, 
and hence commonest, forms of burnt sacrifice. 
Some magicians say that it should be accompanied by 
an invocation addressed to the Spirit of Incense, which 
should be besought, as in the example quoted below, to 
" pervade the seven tiers of earth and sky respectively." 
It would appear that the intention of the worshipper is 
to ensure that his " sacrifice of sweet savour " should 
reach the nostrils of the gods and help to propitiate 
them, wherever they may be, by means of a foretaste 
of offerings to follow. This invocation, however, is 
not unfrequently omitted, or at least slurred over by 
the worshipper, in spite of the contention of the magi- 
cians who use it, that " without it the spell merely 
rises like smoke which is blown away by the wind." 
The following is one form of the invocation in 
question : 

Zabur 1 Hijau is your name, O Incense, 

Zabur Bajang the name of your Mother, 

Zabur Puteh the name of your Fumes, 

Scales from the person of God's Apostle 2 were your Origin. 

May you fumigate the Seven Tiers of the Earth, 

May you fumigate the Seven Tiers of the Sky, 

And serve as a summons to all Spirits, to those which have magic 

powers, and those which have become Saints of God, 
The Spirits of God's elect, who dwell in the Halo of the Sun, 
And whose resort is the " Ka'bah " of God, 
At even and morn, by night and day ; 

1 Zabur is the Arabic for "psalm," * Another account derives the origin 

especially for the Psalms of David ; of incense from the eye gum of the 

but the connection here is not very Prophet Muhammad's eyes, 


And serve as a summons to the Elect of God, 

Who dwell at the Gate of the Spaces of Heaven, 

And whose resort is the White Diamond 

In the Interior of Egypt, at morn and eve, 

Who know (how) to make the dead branch live, 

And the withered blossom unfold its petals, 

And to perform the word of God ; 

By the grace of (the creed) " There is no god but God," etc. 

The direction taken by the fumes of the incense is 
observed and noted for the purpose of divination ; 
this feature of the rite will be noticed under the 
heading of Medicine. 1 

Another form of sacrifice consists in the scattering 
of rice. The sacrificial rice (Oryza saliva) used in the 
ceremonies is always of the following kinds : firstly, 
parched rice (d'ras bertifi) ; secondly, washed rice 
(Uras basok) ; thirdly, saffron-stained rice (Uras 
kunyit, i.e. rice stained with turmeric) ; 2 and, finally, 
a special kind of glutinous rice called pulut (Oryza 
glutinosa), which is also very generally used for sacri- 
ficial banquets. 

Of these, the parched rice is generally used for 
strewing the bottom of the sacrificial tray (anckak) 
when the framework has been covered with banana 
leaves, but the offerings have not yet been deposited 
within it. 

The washed and saffron rice are generally used 
for scattering either over the persons to be benefited 
by the ceremony, or else upon the ground or house- 

With reference to the selection of rice for this 
purpose, it has been suggested that the rice is intended 
to attract what may be called the " bird-soul " (i.e. the 
soul of man conceived as a bird) to the spot, or to 

1 Infra, Chap. VI. p. 410, infra. with other colours, e.g. red, green, 

2 This rice is occasionally stained black (vide pp. 416, 421, infra.) 


keep it from straying at a particularly dangerous 
moment in the life of its owner. 

The pulut or glutinous rice is the kind of rice 
generally used for sacrificial banquets, e.g. for banquets 
at "high places," etc. 

Lustration is generally accomplished either by 
means of fire or of water. The best examples of the 
former are perhaps the fumigation of infants, and 
the api saleian or purificatory fire, over which 
women are half-roasted when a birth has taken place, 
but these being special and distinctive ceremonies, 
will be described with others of the same nature in 
Chapter VI. 

One of the forms of lustration by water, however, 
appears rather to take the place of a sub-rite, forming 
an integral portion of a large class of ceremonies, 
such as those relating to Building, Fishing, Agriculture, 
Marriage, and so forth. Hence it will be necessary to 
give a general sketch of its leading features in the 
present context. 

The ceremony of lustration by water, when it takes 
the form of the sub-rite referred to, is called " Tepong 
Tawar," which properly means " the Neutralising 
Rice-flour (Water)," " neutralising " being used almost 
in a chemical sense, i.e. in the sense of " sterilising " 
the active element of poisons, or of destroying the 
active potentialities of evil spirits. 

The rite itself consists in the application 1 of a thin 
paste made by mixing rice-flour with water : this is 
taken up in a brush or "bouquet" of leaves and 
applied to the objects which the " neutralisation " is 
intended to protect or neutralise, whether they be the 

1 Sometimes it is " dabbed " on the as to spread as evenly as possible, more 
object, sometimes "painted" on it so rarely "sprinkled." 


posts of a house, the projecting ends of a boat's ribs 
\tajok p'rahu), the seaward posts of fishing-stakes 
{puchi kelong), or the forehead and back of the hands 
of the bride and bridegroom. 

The brush must be first fumigated with incense, 
then dipped into the bowl which contains the rice- 
water, and shaken out almost dry, for if the water runs 
down the object to which it is applied it is held to 
"portend tears," whereas if it spreads equally all 
round (benckar) it is lucky. The composition of the 
brush, which is considered to be of the highest 
importance, appears to vary, but only within certain 
limits. It almost invariably, in Selangor, consists of 
a selection of leaves from the following plants, which 
are made up in small bouquets of five, seven, or nine 
leaves each, and bound round with ribu-ribu (a kind 
of small creeper), or a string of shredded tree bark 
(daun trap}. 

The following is a list of the leaves generally 
used : 

1 . Leaves of the grass called sambau dara, which 
is said to be the symbol of a " settled soul " ('alamat 
menetapkan semangat}, and which hence always forms 
the core of the bouquet. 1 

2. The leaves of the selaguri, which appears to be 
"a shrub or small tree with yellow flowers (Clero- 
dendron disparifolium, Bl., Verbenaceae ; or Sida 
rkombifolia, L., Malvaceae, a common small shrub in 
open country)," 2 which is described as one of the first 
of shrubs (kayu asal), and is said to be used as a 
" reminder of origin " (peringatan asal). 

1 It is not unfrequently used in harvest are spread out to dry, and to 

medicinal and other ceremonies, e.g. the centre of the long wooden pestle 

it is tied to each corner of the new mat which is used for husking them, 
on which the first-fruits of the rice- " J.R.A.S., S.JS., No. 30, p. 240. 


3. The leaves of the pulut-pulut (the exact identity 
of which I have not yet ascertained, but which may 
be the Urena lobata, L., one of the Malvaceae), which 
is said to be used for the same purpose as the 

4. The leaves of \htgandarusa (Insticia gandarusa, 
L., Acanthaceae), a plant described as " often cultivated 
and half-wild a shrub used in medicine." 

The selection of this plant is said to be due to its 
reputation for scaring demons ('alamat menghalaukan 
kantu). So great is its efficacy supposed to be, that 
people who have to go out when rain is falling and 
the sun shining simultaneously a most dangerous 
time to be abroad, in Malay estimation, put a sprig of 
the gandarusa in their belts. 

5. The leaves of the gandasuli (which I have not 
yet been able to identify, no such name appearing in 
Ridley's plant-list, but which I believe to be a water-side 
plant which I have seen, with a white and powerfully 
fragrant flower). 1 It is considered to be a powerful 
charm against noxious birth - spirits, such as the 

6. The leaves of the sapanggil (which is not yet 

7. The leaves of the lenjuang merah, or " the 
common red dracaena" (Cor dy line terminalis, var. 
ferrea, Liliaceae). 2 This shrub is planted in graveyards, 

and occasionally at the four corners of the house, to 
drive away ghosts and demons. 

8. The leaves of the sapenoh (unidentified), a 
plant with big round leaves, which is always placed 
outside the rest of the leaves in the bunch. 

1 According to Favre and v. d. Wall, Hedychititn coronarium. 
2 J.R.A.S., S.3., No. 30, p. 158. 



9. To the above list may be perhaps added the 
satawar, sitawar or tawar-tawar (Costus speciosus, L., 
Scitamineae, and Forrestia, spp. Commelinacese) ; and 

10. The satebal (Fagrtza racemosa, Jack., Lo- 

Leaves of the foregoing plants and shrubs are 
made up, as has been said, in small sets or combina- 
tions of five, seven, or even perhaps of nine leaves 
a piece. These combinations are said to differ 
according to the object to which the rice-water is to 
be applied. It is extremely unlikely, however, that 
all magicians should make the same selections even 
for the same objects rather would they be likely to 
make use of such leaves on the list as happen to be 
most readily available. Still, however, as the only 
example of such differentiation which I have yet been 
able to obtain, I will give the details of three separate 
and distinctive combinations, which were described to 
me by a Selangor magician : 

( i ) For a wedding ceremony 

Igandarusa \ 
sSlaguri tied with the 

sapanggil |- creeper 

iSnjuang merah I ribu-ribu. 

sambau dara 

tied round 
with a string 
of shredded 

ISnjuang merah 

(3) For the ceremony of taking I 

the rice-soul I , / 

I sapanggil 

^ sapSnok 

tied with 

Further inquiry and the collection of additional 
material will no doubt help to elucidate the general 
principles on which such selections are made. 


Short rhyming charms are very often used as 
accompaniments of the rite of rice-water, but appear 
to be seldom if ever repeated aloud. The following is a 
specimen, and others will be found in the Appendix : l 

" Neutralising Rice-paste, true Rice-paste, 
And, thirdly, Rice-paste of Kadangsa ! 
Keep me from sickness, keep me from death, 
Keep me from injury and ruin." 

Other not less important developments of the idea 
of lustration by water are to be found in such cere- 
monies as the bathing of mother and child after a 
birth and the washing of the floor (basoh lantei] upon 
similar occasions, the bathing of the sick, of bride and 
bridegroom at weddings, of corpses (meruang)? and 
the annual bathing expeditions (mandi Safar], which 
are supposed to purify the persons of the bathers and 
to protect them from evil (tolak bala). 

Fasting, or the performance of religious penance, 
which is now but seldom practised, would appear to 
have been only undertaken in former days with a 
definite object in view, such as the production of the 
state of mental exaltation which induces ecstatic visions, 
the acquisition of supernatural powers (sakti}, and so 

The fast always took place, of course, in a solitary 
spot, and not unfrequently upon the top of some high 
and solitary hill such as Mount Ophir (Gunong Led- 
ang), on the borders of Malacca territory. Frequently, 
however, much lower hills, or even plains which pos- 
sessed some remarkable rock or tree, would be selected 
for the purpose. 

Such fasting, however, did not, as sometimes with 

1 Vide App. xiii., xxxvi., xxxvii., cli., etc. 

2 Vide Birth, Marriage, Funerals, Medicine. 



us, convey to the Malays the idea of complete abstin- 
ence, as the magicians informed me that a small modi- 
cum of rice contained in a ketupat (which is a small 
diamond-shaped rice-receptacle made of plaited cocoa- 
nut leaf) was the daily " allowance " of any one who was 
fasting. The result was that fasts might be almost 
indefinitely prolonged, and the thrice-seven-days' fast 
of 'Che Utus upon Jugra Hill, on the Selangor coast, 1 
is still one of the traditions of that neighbourhood, 
whilst in Malay romances and in Malay tradition this 
form of religious penance is frequently represented as 
continuing for years. 

Finally, I would draw attention to the strong vein 
of Sympathetic Magic or " make believe " which runs 
through and leavens the whole system of Malay super- 
stition. The root-idea of this form of magic has been 
said to be the principle that " cause follows from effect." 

" One of the principles of sympathetic magic is that 
any effect may be produced by imitating it. ... If it 
is wished to kill a person, an image of him is made 
and then destroyed ; and it is believed that through a 
certain physical sympathy between the person and his 
image, the man feels the injuries done to the image as 
if they were done to his own body, and that when it is 
destroyed he must simultaneously perish." 5 

The principle thus described is perhaps the most 
important of all those which underlie the " Black Art " 
of the Malays. 

1 It was on Jugra Hill, according to 2 Frazer, Golden Bough, vol. i. pp. 

tradition, that the Princess of Malacca 9-12. 
fasted to obtain eternal youth. 



(a) Gods 

A CAREFUL investigation of the magic rites and charms 
used by a nation which has changed its religion will 
not unfrequently show, that what is generally called 
witchcraft is merely the debris of the older ritual, con- 
demned by the priests of the newer faith, but yet 
stubbornly, though secretly, persisting, through the 
unconquerable religious conservatism of the mass of 
the people. 

" There is nothing that clings longer to a race than 
the religious faith in which it has been nurtured. 
Indeed, it is impossible for any mind that is not 
thoroughly scientific to cast off entirely the religious 
forms of thought in which it has grown to maturity. 
Hence in every people that has received the impression 
of foreign beliefs, we find that the latter do not expel 
and supersede the older religion, but are engrafted on 
it, blent with it, or overlie it. Observances are more 
easily abandoned than ideas, and even when all the 
external forms of the alien faith have been put on, and 
few vestiges of the indigenous one remain, the latter 
still retains its vitality in the mind, and powerfully 
colours or corrupts the former. The actual religion of 


a people is thus of great ethnographic interest, and 
demands a minute and searching observation. No 
other facts relating to rude tribes are more difficult of 
ascertainment, or more often elude inquiry." * 

" The general principle stated by Logan in the 
passage just quoted receives remarkable illustration 
from a close investigation of the folk-lore and super- 
stitious beliefs of the Malays. Two successive religious 
changes have taken place among them, and when we 
have succeeded in identifying the vestiges of Brahman- 
ism which underlie the external forms of the faith of 
Muhammad, long established in all Malay kingdoms, 
we are only half-way through our task. 

" There yet remain the powerful influences of the 
still earlier indigenous faith to be noted and accounted 
for. Just as the Buddhists of Ceylon turn in times of 
sickness and danger, not to the consolations offered by 
the creed of Buddha, but to the propitiation of the 
demons feared and reverenced by their early pro- 
genitors, and just as the Burmese and Talaings, though 
Buddhists, retain in full force the whole of the Nat 
superstition, so among the Malays, in spite of centuries 
which have passed since the establishment of an alien 
worship, the Muhammadan peasant may be found 
invoking the protection of Hindu gods against the 
spirits of evil with which his primitive faith has peopled 
all natural objects." 2 

" What was the faith of Malaya seven hundred years 
ago it is hard to say, but there is a certain amount of 
evidence to lead to the belief that it was a form of 
Brahmanism, and that, no doubt, had succeeded the 
original spirit worship." 3 

1 Journal of the Indian Archipelago, 2 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, pp. II, 12. 
vol. iv. p. 573. 3 Swettenham, Malay Sketches, p. 192. 


The evidence of folk-lore, taken in conjunc- 
tion with that supplied by charm -books and 
romances, goes to show that the greater gods of the 
Malay Pantheon, though modified in some respects 
by Malay ideas, were really borrowed Hindu divinities, 
and that only the lesser gods and spirits are native to 
the Malay religious system. It is true that some of 
these native gods can be with more or less distinctness 
identified with the great powers of nature : the King of 
the Winds (Raja Angin) for instance ; " Mambang Tali 
Harus," or the god of mid-currents (the Malay Nep- 
tune) ; the gods of thunder and lightning, of the celes- 
tial bodies, etc. ; but none of them appear to have the 
status of the chief gods of the Hindu system, and both 
by land and water the terrible Shiva (" Batara Guru " 
or "Kala") is supreme. Yet each department of 
nature, however small, has its own particular godling 
or spirit who requires propitiation, and influences for 
good or evil every human action. Only the moral 
element is wanting to the divine hegemony the 
"cockeyed," limping substitute which does duty for 
it reflecting only too truthfully the character of the 
people with whom it passes as divine. 

I will first take, in detail, the gods of Hindu origin. 
"Batara (or Bgtara) Guru" is "the name by which 
Siva is known to his worshippers, who constitute the 
vast majority of the Balinese, and who probably con- 
stituted the bulk of the old Javanese." 1 

In the magic of the Peninsular Malays we find 
Vishnu the Preserver, Brahma the Creator, Batara 
Guru, Kala, and S'ri simultaneously appealed to by the 
Malay magician ; and though it would, perhaps, be rash, 

1 Mr. R. J. Wilkinson mJ.R.A.S., S.B. t No. 30, p. 308. 




(as Mr. Wilkinson says), to infer solely from Malay 
romances or Malay theatrical invocations (many of 
which owe much to Javanese influence), that Hinduism 
was the more ancient religion of the Malays, there 
is plenty of other evidence to prove that the " Batara 
Guru " of the Malays (no less than the Batara Guru of 
Bali and Java) is none other than the recognised father 
of the Hindu Trinity. 1 

Of the greater deities or gods, Batara Guru is 
unquestionably the greatest. "In the Hikayat Sang 
Samba (the Malay version of the Bhaumakavya), 
Batara Guru appears as a supreme God, with Brahma 
and Vishnu as subordinate deities. It is Batara Guru 
who alone has the water of life (ayer utama (atama) 
jiwa] which brings the slaughtered heroes to life." : 

So to this day the Malay magician declares that 
'Toh Batara Guru (under any one of the many corrup- 
tions which his name now bears 3 ) was " the all-powerful 

1 The following are the deities most 
usually inscribed in the "magic square" 
of five : I . Kala (black), which is an 
epithet of Shiva ; 2. Maheswara, which 
means Great Lord, an epithet of Shiva ; 
3. Vishnu; 4. Brahma; 5. S'ri (the 
wife of Vishnu) ; or else the names are 
mentioned in this order : I. Brahma ; 
2. Vishnu ; 3. Maheswara (Shiva) ; 4. 
S'ri ; 5. Kala. Kali, Durga, or Gauri, 
is the wife of Shiva ; Sarasvati is the 
wife of Brahma. See inf. p. 545, seqq. 
In the magic word Aum (OM): A = 
Vishnu, U = Shiva, M = Brahma. 

2 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 30, p. 309. 
This is the water of life called Amrita, 
to obtain which, by churning the ocean, 
Vishnu assumed one of his avatars 
that of the tortoise. 

3 Cp. Crawfurd, Hist, of the Ind. 
Archipelago, vol. ii. p. 219. "From 
some of the usual epithets bestowed 
upon Siwa by the pagan Javanese, and 
still familiar to their posterity, the pre- 
eminence of this deity is clearly demon- 

strated. . . . He is the same personage 
who acts so distinguished a part in the 
machinery of Malayan and Javanese 
romances, under the appellation of Guru, 
or the instructor, prefixing to it the word 
Batara, a corruption of Avatara, both 
in sense and orthography, for with the 
Indian islanders that word is not used 
as with the genuine Hindus, to express 
the incarnation of a god, but as an 
appellation expressing any deity ; nay, 
as if conferring an apotheosis upon their 
princes, it has been sometimes prefixed 
to the names of some of the most cele- 
brated of their ancient kings. When 
Siwa appears in this character, in the 
romances of the Indian islanders, he is 
painted as a powerful, mischievous, and 
malignant tyrant a description suffici- 
ently consonant to his character of 
Destroyer in the Hindu triad " ; and, 
again, "ywang is a Javanese word 
used in the same sense as batara. . . . 
Usually the obsolete relative pronoun 
sang, which has the sense, in this case, 


spirit who held the place of Allah before the advent 
of Muhammadanism, a spirit so powerful that he could 
restore the dead to life ; and to him all prayers were 

Mr. Wilkinson, in the article from which we have 
already quoted, deals with another point of interest, 
the expression sang-yang, or batara, which is pre- 
fixed to guru. After pointing out that yang in 
this case is not the ordinary Malay pronoun (yang, 
who), but an old word meaning a "deity," he 
remarks, that so far as he has been able to discover, 
it is only used of the greater Hindu divinities, and 
not of inferior deities or demi-gods. Thus we find 
it applied to Shiva and Vishnu, but never to the 
monkey -god Hanuman, or a deity of secondary 
importance like Dermadewa. Such inferior divinities 
have only the lesser honorific " sang " prefixed to 
their names, and in this respect fare no better than 
mere mortals (such as Sang Sapurba and Sang Ran- 
juna Tapa) and animals (such as, in fables, Sang 
Kanchil, Mr. Mousedeer ; and Sang Tikus, Mr. 

" The expression batara is also limited to the 
greater Hindu divinities (except when used as a 
royal title), e.g. Batara Guru, Batara Kala, Batara 
Indra, Batara Bisnu, etc. Thus the expressions 
sang-yang and batara are fairly coincident in their 
application. 1 But there are a few deities of whom 

of a definite article, is placed before it. Malays, becomes "yang," sangyang 

Thus sangywang guru is the same as being also found. 

batara guru. ... It is probably the Another (and probably better) ety- 

same word also which forms the last mology of batara is given by Favre and 

part of a word in extensive use, sam- Wilken, viz. Sanskr. bhattara, "lord." 

bahayang, 'worship or adoration.'" * To these should perhaps be added 

Crawfurd, Mai. Grammar, p. cxcviii. dewa, mambang (?), and sa-raja (or 

To this I may add that the form sang raja), if Mr. Wilkinson's ex- 

ywang, when used by the Peninsular planation of this last expression be 


the honorific sang-yang is used, but not batara, e.g. 
sang-yang tunggal, 'the only God,' sang-yang sokma, etc. 

" Thus batara would seem to be limited in use to 
the actual names of Hindu deities as distinct from 
epithets describing those deities. "Batara Guru" 
would seem to be an exception the only one to 
this rule, and to point to the fact that the original 
meaning of guru had been lost sight of, and that the 
expression had come to be regarded only as a proper 

Occasionally, as is only to be expected, the 
Malays get mixed in their mythology, and of this 
Mr. Wilkinson gives two examples, one of the iden- 
tification of Batara Guru (Shiva) with Brahma (Berah- 
mana), and another of the drawing of a distinction 
between "Guru" (Shiva) and " Mahadewa," which 
latter is only another name for the same divinity. 

Such slips are inevitable among an illiterate people, 
and should always be criticised by comparison with 
the original Hindu tenets, from which these ideas 
may be presumed to have proceeded. 

taken as correct. And in any case god of mid-currents, has even been 

its use in combination with guru explained as referring to Batara Guru 

appears to warrant its classification (Shiva). This, however, is no doubt 

with the titles applied to the greater an instance of confusion, as it generally 

deities. It is also, however, used, appears to be used with the "colour" 

like sang, of inferior deities and attributes (e.g. M. puteh, White ; M. 

even of animals (e.g. in a "Spectre hitam, Black; M. kuning, Yellow) 

Huntsman " charm) we find " Lansat, usually assigned to the inferior divini- 

sa-raja anjing, etc." Dewa is used ties ; and, moreover, in an invocation 

indiscriminately (occasionally in con- addressed to the sea-spirit, the " god of 

junction with mambang) both of the mid-currents" is requested to forward 

greater and lesser divinities. Thus we a message to Dato' Rimpun 'Alam, 

not unfrequently find such expressions which appears to be merely another 

as Dewa Bisnu (i.e. Vishnu), dewa name for Batara Guru, the reason given 

mambang, dewa dan mambang, etc.- ; for the preferment of this request being 

and we are expressly told that they that he is in the habit of "visiting the 

(the Dewas) "are so called because Heart of the Seas" in which 'Toh 

they are immortal." Mambang (per se) Rimpun 'Alam dwells (the title of the 

is said to be similarly used, not only of latter being perhaps taken from the 

greater (vide App. xvii.), but of lesser tree, Pauh Janggi). 
divinities, and "Mambang Tali Harus," 

iv KALA AND S'Rl 89 

Mr. Wilkinson quotes an extraordinary genealogy 
representing, inter alia, " Guru as the actual father 
of the Hindu Trinity," and also of "Sambu" (whom 
he cannot identify), and " Seri, who is the Hindu 
Sri, the goddess of grain, and, therefore, a deity 
of immense importance to the old Javanese and 

On this I would only remark that Sambu (or 
Jambu) is the first portion of the name almost uni- 
versally ascribed to the Crocodile-spirit by the Pen- 
insular Malays. 1 

It would be beyond the scope of this work to 
attempt the identification of Batara Guru (Shiva) with 
all the numerous manifestations and titles attributed 
to him by the Malays, but the special manifestation 
(of Shiva), which is called " Kala," forms an integral 
part of the general conception, whether among the 

1 Footnote supra. Sambu (Sambhu, ant and becomes tapa. Avatar, ' a 
the Auspicious One) is merely another descent,' is converted into batara ; 
name for Shiva (rarely of Brahma), and instead of implying the descent or 
and its application to the crocodile- incarnation of a deity, is used as an 
spirit would appear to indicate that this appellative for any of the principal 
latter was, formerly, at least, regarded Hindu deities. Combined with guru, 
as an embodiment of that supreme also Sanskrit, it is the most current 
god's manifestation as a water -god. name of the chief god of the Hindus, 
It is worth while to compare this with worshipped by the Indian islanders, 
the expression " 'Toh Panjang Kuku," supposed to have been Vishnu, or the 
which is applied to the corresponding preserving power. It may be trans- 
manifestation of the supreme god on lated " the spiritual guide god," or, 
land, and which strongly suggests the perhaps, literally " the god of the 
tiger. spiritual guides," that is, of the Brah- 

" Most of the theological words of this mins. Agama in Sanskrit is "authority 

list [printed in App. xiv.] are Sans- for religious doctrine"; in Malay and 

krit, and afford proof sufficient, if any Javanese it is religion itself, and is at 

were needed, of the former prevalence present applied both to the Mahome- 

of the Hindu religion among the Malays dan and the Christian religions. With 

and Javanese. Many of them are nearly the same orthography, and in 

more or less corrupted in orthography, the same sense, Sanskrit words, as far 

owing to the defective pronunciation as they extend, are used throughout the 

and defective alphabets of the Archi- Archipelago, and even as far as the 

pelago. Some, also, are altered or Philippines." Crawfurd, Mai. Gram- 

varied in sense. Tapas, 'ascetic de- mar, pp. cxcvii.-cxcviii. 
votion,' is deprived of its last conson- 


Malays or Hindus, and is, therefore, deserving of 
some attention. 

The Malay conception of Batara Guru seems to 
have been that he had both a good and a bad side 
to his character. Though he was "Destroyer" he 
was also " Restorer-to-life," 1 and it would appear 
that these two opposite manifestations of his power 
tended to develop into two distinct personalities, 
a development which apparently was never entirely 
consummated. This, however, is not the only 
difficulty, for on investigating the limits of the 
respective spheres of influence of Batara Guru and 
Kala, we find that the only sphere, which is always 
admitted to be under Kala's influence, is the inter- 
mediate zone between the respective spheres of influ- 
ence of Batara Guru (as he is called if on land, " Si 
Raya " if at sea) and a third divinity, who goes by 
the name of " 'Toh Panjang Kuku," or " Grandsire 

Now Hindu mythology, we are told, knows next 
to nothing of the sea, and any such attempt as this 
to define the respective boundaries of sea and land 
is almost certain to be due to the influence of Malay 
ideas. Again, the intermediate zone is not neces- 
sarily considered less dangerous than that of definitely 
evil influences. Thus the most dangerous time for 
children to be abroad is sunset, the hour when we 
can "call it neither perfect day nor night"; so 
too a day of mingled rain and sunshine is regarded 
as fraught with peculiar dangers from evil spirits, and 
it would be quite in keeping with such ideas that the 
intermediate zone, whether between high and low 
water-mark, or between the clearing and primeval 

1 Supra, p. 86. 


forest, should be assigned to Kala, the Destroyer. 
In which case the expression " Grandsire Long- 
Claws" might be used to signify this special mani- 
festation of Shiva on land, possibly through the 
personality of the Tiger, just as the Crocodile -spirit 
appears to represent Shiva by water. 1 

We thus reach a point of exceptional interest, for 
hunting, being among the old Hindus one of the 
seven deadly sins, was regarded as a low pursuit, and 
one which would never be indulged in by a god. Yet 
I was repeatedly told when collecting charms about 
the Spectre Huntsman that he was a god, and, ex- 
plicitly, that he was Batara Guru. This shows the 
strength of the Malay influences which had been at 
work, and which had actually succeeded in corrupting 
the character, so to speak, of the supreme god of this 
borrowed Hindu Trinity. 2 

The Batara Guru of the Sea, who by some 
magicians, at all events, is identified with Si Raya 
(the " Great One "), and, probably wrongly, with the 
God of Mid-currents 3 (Mambang Tali Harus), is of a 
much milder character than his terrestrial namesake or 
compeer, and although sickness may sometimes be 

1 Some confirmation of this view and Batara Guru di Laut (Shiva of the 

may be found if we admit the explana- Ocean) from low-water mark out to the 

tion given me by a medicine-man, who open sea. 

identified the Spectre Huntsman with 3 It is very difficult to ascertain the 

'Toh Panjang Kuku, and both with exact relation that 'Toh Mambang Tali 

Batara Guru. Harus (God of Mid-currents) bears to 

1 The supreme god in the State Batara Guru di Laut. Most probably, 

Chamber (balei) is Batara Guru, on the however, the God of Mid -currents, 

edge of the primeval forest (di-gigi whose powers are less extensive than 

rimba) it is Batara Kala, and in the those of the "Shiva of the Sea," is an 

heart of the forest (di hati rimba) it is old sea-deity, native to the Malay (pre- 

Toh Panjang Kuku, or " Grandsire Hindu) religion, and that " Shiva of 

Long-Claws." Similarly "Grandsire the Sea" was merely the local Malay 

Long- Claws " is lord of the shore down adaptation of the Hindu deity after- 

to high-water mark ; between that and wards imported, 
low-water mark Raja Kala is supreme, 


ascribed to the sea-spirit's wrath, it is neither so sudden 
nor so fatal as the sickness ascribed to the wanton and 
unprovoked malice of the Spectre Huntsman, or Spirit 
of the Land. 

Fishermen and seafarers, on the other hand, obtain 
many a favour from him, and even hope to make 
friends with him by means of simple sacrifices and 

Si Raya (or Madu-Raya) is said to have a family, 
his wife's name being Madu-ruti, and his children 
"Wa' Ranai," and "Si Kekas" (the scratcher), all of 
whom, however, have their own separate spheres of 
influence. The "Great One" himself (Madu-Raya) 
rules over the sea from low-water mark (at the river's 
mouth) out to mid-ocean ; and if his identity with 
" 'Toh Rimpun 'Alam " is accepted, 1 his place of 
abode is at the navel of the seas, within the central 
whirlpool (Pusat Tasek), from the centre of which 
springs the Magic Tree (Pauh Janggi), on whose 
boughs perches the roc (garuda) of fable, and at 
whose foot dwells the Gigantic Crab, whose entrance 
into and exit from the cave in which he dwells is 
supposed to cause the displacement of water which 
results in the ebb and flow of the tide. 2 

The only other divinities (of the rank of " Mam- 
bangs ") which are of any importance are the " White 
divinity," who dwells in the Sun, the " Black divin- 
ity," who dwells in the Moon, and the "'Yellow divin- 
ity," who dwells in the Yellow Sunset-glow, which 
latter is always considered most dangerous to children. 

When there is a decided glow at sunset, any one 
who sees it takes water into his mouth (di-kemam ayer) 

1 Vide supra, p. 88, note. Yang brulang ka pusat tasek is the expression 
applied to Mambang Tali Harus. 2 Vide supra, pp. 6, 7. 

iv THE GENII 93 

and dislodges it in the direction of the brightness, at 
the same time throwing ashes (di-sembor dengan abu) 

saying : 

Mambang kuning, mambang kUabu^ 
Pantat kuning di-sembor abu. 

This is done " in order to put out the brightness," the 
reason that it must be put out being that in the case 
of any one who is not very strong (lemah semangaf] 
it causes fever. 

(b] Spirits, Demons, and Ghosts 

The "Jins"or "Genii," generally speaking, form 
a very extensive class of quite subordinate divinities, 
godlings, or spirits, whose place in Malay mythology 
is clearly due, whether directly or indirectly, to Muham- 
madan influences, but who may be most conveniently 
treated here as affording a sort of connecting link 
between gods and ghosts. There has, it would appear, 
been a strong tendency on the part of the Malays to 
identify these imported spirits with the spirits of their 
older (Hindu) religion, but the only Genie who really 
rises to the level of one of the great Hindu divinities 
is the Black King of the Genii (Sang Gala 1 Raja, or 
Sa-Raja Jin), who appears at times a manifestation of 
Shiva Batara Guru, who is confounded with the de- 
structive side of Shiva, i.e. Kala. This at least would 
appear to be the only theory on which we could explain 
the use of many of the epithets or attributes assigned 
to the King of the Genii, who is at one time called 
" the one and only God " ; at another, " Bentara (i.e. 

1 It would appear not impossible higher rank of this particular spirit, 

that Sang Gala may be a corruption of and for his possession of the titles enu- 

Sangkara, one of the names of Shiva, merated above, 
which would account at once for the 


Batara), Guru, the Genie that was from the beginning," 
and at another, " the Land Demon, the Black Batara 
Guru," etc. 

The following is a description of this, the mightiest 
of the Genii : 

Peace be with you ! 
Ho, Black Genie with the Black Liver, 
Black Heart and Black Lungs, 
Black Spleen and tusk-like Teeth, 
Scarlet Breast and body-hairs inverted, 
And with only a single bone. 1 

So far as can be made out from the meagre evidence 
obtainable, the spirit thus described is identifiable with 
the Black King of Genii, who dwells in the Heart 
of the Earth, and whose bride, Sang Gadin (or Gading), 
presented him with seven strapping Black Genii as 
children. 2 

Altogether there are one hundred and ninety of 
these (Black?) Genii more strictly, perhaps, one hun- 
dred and ninety-three, which coincides curiously with 
the number of "Mischiefs" (Badi), which reside in 
"all living things." The resemblance, I may add, 
does not end here ; for though the Genii may do good, 
and the " Badi " do not, both are considered able to 
do infinite harm to mortals, and both make choice of 
the same kind of dwelling-places, such as hollows in 
the hills, solitary patches of primeval forest, dead 
parasites on trees, etc. etc. 

As to the origin of these Genii, one magician told 
me that all "Jins" came from the country "Ban 

1 Vide App. ccxxviii. Another ac- bolt "); (") Sa-rukup ( = rungkup) Rang 
count adds (with) " Black Throat and Bumi (" World - coverer "); (4) Sa- 
White Blood," white blood being a g?rtak Rang Bumi (" World-pricker"); 
royal attribute. (5) Sa-gunchang Rang Bumi ("World- 

2 Their names were (I) Sa-lakun shaker"); (6) Sa-tumbok Rang Bumi 
darah ("He of the Blood-pool (?))"; (" World-beater") and (?) (7) Sa-gempar 
(2) Sa-halilmtar("H.Q of the Thunder- *Alam (" Universe-terrifier "). 


t- a 


Ujan," which may possibly be Persia) ; l other 
magicians, however, variously derive them from the 
dissolution of various parts of the anatomy of the great 
snake " Sakatimuna," of the "First Great Failure" 
to make man's image (at the creation of man) ; from 
the drops of blood which spirted up to heaven when 
the first twins, Abel and Cain (in the Malay version 
Habil and Kabil) bit their thumbs ; from the big 
cocoa-nut monkey or baboon (berok besar\ and so on. 

The theory already mentioned, viz. that the Black 
King of the Genii gradually came to be identified with 
Kala, and later came gradually to be established as a 
separate personality, appears to be the only one which 
will satisfactorily explain the relations subsisting be- 
tween the Black and White Genii, who are on the one 
hand distinctly declared to be brothers, whilst the 
White Genie is in another passage declared to be 
Maharaja Dewa or Mahadewa, which latter is, as we 
have already seen, a special name of Shiva. 

This White Genie is said to have sprung, by one 
account, from the blood-drops which fell on the ground 
when Habil and Kabil bit their thumbs ; by another, 
from the irises of the snake Sakatimuna's eyes (benih 
mata Sakatimuna], and is sometimes confused with the 
White Divinity ('Toh Mambang Puteh), who lives in 
the sun. 

The name of his wife is not mentioned, as it is in 
the case of the Black Genie, but the names of three of 
his children have been preserved, and they are Tanjak 

1 The magician appears to have Father of the Genii, or, according to 

interpreted it as 'ajatn ; but it others, a particular class of them who 

may be conjectured that this is a mis- are capable of being transformed into 

taken inference from some expression "Jin." Vide Hughes, Diet, of Islam, 

like Jin ibnu Jan, "Jan," according s.v. Genii, 
to some Arabic authorities, being the 

9 6 



Malim Kaya, Pari Lang (lit. kite-like, i.e. " winged " 
Skate), and Bintang Sutan (or Star of Sutan). 1 

On the whole, I may say that the White Genie is 
very seldom mentioned in comparison with the Black 
Genie, and that whereas absolutely no harm, so far as I 
can find out, is recorded of him, he is, on the other hand, 
appealed to for protection by his worshippers. 

A very curious subdivision of Genii into Faithful 
(Jin Islam) and Infidel (Jin Kafir) is occasionally met 
with, and it is said, moreover, that Genii (it is to be 
hoped orthodox ones) may be sometimes bought at 
Mecca from the " Sheikh Jin " (Headman of Genii) at 
prices varying from $90 to $100 a piece. 2 

1 Perhaps a corruption of Sartan, 
the Crab (Cancer) in the Zodiac. 

2 The following account of Genii 
(printed in the S clangor Journal, vol. i. 
No. 7, p. 1 02) was given me by a Mecca 
pilgrim or " Haji." This man was a 
native of Java who had spent several 
years in the Malay Peninsula, and as 
Mecca is the goal of the pilgrimage to 
all good Muhammadans alike, it is 
important to know something of the 
ideas which are there disseminated, and 
with which the Malay pilgrim would 
be likely to come in contact. " In 
the unseen world the place of first 
importance must be accorded, on 
account of their immense numbers, to 
the ' Jins ' (the ' Genii ' of the Arabian 

" The Javanese, drawing a slightly 
stronger line of distinction (than that 
of good and bad genii in the Arabian 
Nighls), call these two (separate) classes 
the Jin Islam and the Jin Kafir, or the 
Faithful and the Infidel. Of these two 
classes, the former shrink from what- 
ever is unclean, and the latter only will 
approach the Chinese, to whom the 
Jin Islam manifests the strongest re- 
pugnance. The good genii are perfectly 
formed in the fashion of a man, but are, 
of course, impalpable as air, though 
they have a voice like mortals. They 
live in a mosque of their own, which 

they never leave, and where they offer 
up unceasing prayers. This mosque is 
built of stone, and stands beside a lake 
called ' Kolam Yamani ' ; into this 
lake the whole of the waters from the 
neighbouring country drain, and the 
overflow runs down to the sea. In 
this lake the good genii bathe, and if 
any wicked or childless mortals bathe 
in it they carry them off and detain 
them in the mosque until they (the 
mortals) have shown proof of their 
reformed character by continuing for a 
long while without committing a wrong 
action, when they are sent back in 
safety to their native land. I should 
add that the Jin Islam exact tribute 
from the unfaithful e.g. Chinamen 
and if they do not receive their due, 
they will steal it and give it to a son 
of Islam. [They may be bought from 
the " Sheikh Jin " at Mecca for prices 
varying from $90 to $100 each.] 

"The Jin Kafir, or bad genii, are 
invariably deformed, their heads being 
always out of their proper position ; in 
short, they are Othello's 

Men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders. 

Their commonest name, 'Jin isi-isi 
didalam Dunia ' (the Genii who Fill 
the World), is owing to the fact that 
their enormous numbers fill the whole 
atmosphere from earth to sky. Like 



Besides these subdivisions, certain Genii are some- 
times specifically connected with special objects or 
ideas. Thus there are the Genii of the royal musical 
instruments (Jin Ne'mfiri, or Lempiri, Gendang, and 
Naubat), who are sometimes identified with the Genii 
of the State (Jin Karaja'an), and the Genii of the 
Royal Weapons (Jin Sembuana), both of which classes 
of Genii are held able to strike men dead. The only 
other Genie that I would here specially mention is 
the Jin 'Afrit (sometimes called Jin Rafrit), from 
whom the "White Man" (a designation which is 
often specially used in the Peninsula as a synonym 
for Englishman) is sometimes said to have sprung, but 
who belongs in Arabian mythology to a higher class 
than the mere Genii. Before leaving the subject of 
Genii, I must, however, point out the extremely 
common juxtaposition of the Arabic word "Jin" and 
the Malay " Jembalang." From the frequency with 
which this juxtaposition occurs, and from the fact that 
the two appear to be used largely as convertible terms, 
we might expect to find that Jin and Jembalang were 
mere synonyms, both applicable to similar classes of 
spirits. The process is not quite complete, however, as 
although the expression Jembalang Tunggal (the only 
Jembalang), is found as well as Jin Tunggal, the higher 

the good Genii, they cannot die before them invisible cocoa-nut shells, one for 

the great day of judgment, but (unlike each drop of rain. In these they catch 

them) they are dumb. each rain-drop as it falls, and herbs 

" Great as their numbers are they are and trees alike wither for lack of 

continually increasing, as they are moisture. Then the angels being 

suffered by God to get children after wroth, cast thunderbolts upon them out 

their kind. They are imps of mischief, of heaven, and these malicious elves 

and their whole time is spent in works take shelter in tall trees, which the 

I of malice. Sometimes when there has thunderbolts blast in their fall. At 

been a long drought and a heavy shower another time they will climb one upon 

of rain is poured down upon the earth the other's shoulders until they reach 

by the angels at the bidding of God to the sky, when the topmost elf kicks a 

cool the parched verdure, they will neighbouring angel, and then they all 

assemble their legions, bringing with fall together with a crash like thunder. " 



honorific Sang Raja or Sa-Raja is never, so far as I am 
aware, prefixed to the word " Jembalang," though it is 
frequently prefixed to "Jin." Of the other members 
of the Malay hierarchy who owe their introduction to 
Muhammadan influences, the only ones of importance 
are angels (Mala'ikat), prophets (Nabi), and headmen 

I will take them in this order. 

Of the angels, unquestionably the most important 
are Azrael ('Azra'il or 'Ijrail), Michael (Mika'il), Israfel 
(Israfil, Ijrafil, or Serafil), and Gabriel (Jibra'il or 
'Jabra'il, often corrupted into Raja Brahil). There 
can be no doubt that the foregoing are meant for 
the names of a group of four archangels, the name 
of Israfel corresponding to Abdiel, who generally 
occupies the fourth place in our own angelic hierarchy. 

Their customary duties are apportioned among the 
four great angels as follows : 

Azrael is, as with us, the angel of death, who 
" carries off the lives of all creatures " ; Israfel is " lord 
of all the different airs " in our body ; Michael is the 
"giver of daily bread "; and Gabriel is a messenger 
or " bringer of news." 

Sometimes, again, a White Angel (Mala'ikat Puteh) 
is mentioned, e.g. as being in " charge of all things 
in the jungle," but what his specific duties are in 
this connection does not transpire. 

In an invocation addressed to the Sea-spirit, how- 
ever, we find four more such angels mentioned, all of 
whom hold similar charges : 

Chitar AH is the angel's name, who is lord of the whirlpool ; 
Sabur AH is the angel's name, who is lord of the winds ; 
Sir AH is the angel's name, who is lord of the waters of the sea ; 
Putar AH is the angel's name, who is lord of the rainbow. 


No doubt the names of many more of the sub- 
ordinate angels might be collected, as we are repeatedly 
told that they are forty-four in number. 

Of the prophets (Nabi) there are an indefinite 
number, the title being applied to many of the more 
prominent characters who figure in our own Old 
Testament (as well as in the Koran), but who would 
not by ourselves be considered to possess any special 
qualifications for prophetic office. Among the more 
famous of these I may mention (after Muhammad and 
his immediate compeers) the prophet Solomon (some- 
times considered no doubt owing to his unrivalled 
reputation for magical skill as the king of the Genii, 
whose assistance the hunter or trapper is continu- 
ally invoking) ; the prophet David, celebrated for 
the beauty of his voice ; and the prophet Joseph, 
celebrated for the beauty of his countenance. Besides 
these (and others of the same type), there is a group 
of minor prophets whose assistance is continually in- 
voked in charms ; these are the prophet Tap (Tetap 
or Ketap?), "lord of the earth;" the prophet Khailir 
(Khaithir or Khizr), "lord of water ;" the prophet 
Noah, " lord of trees ; " and the prophet Elias, " planter 
of trees." 

Khizr is often confounded with Elias. He dis- 
covered and drank of the fountain of life (whence his 
connection with water), and will consequently not die 
till the last trump. 

Next to the prophets comes the "Sultan" (Sultan), 
or "King" (Malik), both of which Arabic titles, 
however, are somewhat rarely used by Malay 
magicians. Still we find such expressions as Sa- 
Raja (Sang- Raja?) Malik (King of Kings) applied to 
Batara Guru. 


Next to these royal honorifics comes the title of 
"Headman" or "Sheikh." 

There are, it is usually stated, four of these Sheikhs 
who are " penned " (di-kandang] in the Four Corners 
of the Earth respectively, and whose names are 'Abdul 
Kadir, 'Abdul Muri, a third whose name is not men- 
tioned, and 'Abdul 'Ali. 1 

Sometimes they are called "Sheikh 'Alam " (or Si 
Putar 'Alam), and are each said to reside "within a ring- 
fence of white iron." Hence we obtain a perfectly 
intelligible meaning for the expression, " Ask pardon of 
the Four Corners of the World" i.e. of the Sheikhs 
who reside therein, though the phrase sounds ridi- 
culous enough without such explanation. 

The only other Arabic title which is perhaps worth 
noticing here 2 is that of " Priest " (Imam), which we 
find somewhat curiously used in an invocation addressed 
to the sea-spirit. " Imam An Jalil is the name of the 
'Priest of the Sea.'" 

In the invocation addressed to the Sea-spirit we 
find the expression : 

" Jungle-chief of the World is the name of the Old 
Man of the Sea." 

There can, however, be little doubt that this " Old 
Man of the Sea" is a mere synonym for Batara Guru. 

A set of expressions to which special reference 
should perhaps be made consists of the titles used 
by the wild jungle tribes (Sakais), the use of which 

1 It is probable that the Arabic ally used, e.g. Sidang (or Sedang) 
spirits here mentioned have, as in other Saleh, Sidang (or Sddang) Mumin. 
cases, taken the place of native (Malay) It is probable that " Sidang " in these 
spirits to whom similar functions were cases is a Malay word implying re- 
assigned, but whose names are now spectability (v. v. d. W. s.v.), so that 
lost. Sidang Saleh may be translated " Sir 

2 There are, besides, one or two partly Devout," and Sidang Mumin, "Sir 
Arabic expressions which are occasion- Faithful." 


is important as confirming the principle that the 
" Autochthones " are more influential with the 
spirits residing in their land than any later arrivals 
can be, whatever skill the latter may have acquired 
in the magic arts of the country from whence they 

"Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, Munshi, in his 
Autobiography, has an interesting passage on the 
beliefs of the Malays on the subject of spirits and 
demons, beliefs which are much more deeply-rooted 
than is generally supposed. He does not, however, 
differentiate between national customs and beliefs, and 
those which have come in with the Muhammadan 
religion. And indeed it is not easy to do so. Here, 
everything is classed under the generic term sheitan, 
which is Arabic, and we find the rakshasa of Hindu 
romances and the/w and 'efrit of the Arabian Nights 
in the company of a lot of Indo-Chinese spirits and 
goblins, who have not come from the West like the 
others : 

" I explained to Mr. M. clearly the names of all 
the sheitan believed in by Chinese and Malays ; all 
ignorance and folly which have come down from their 
ancestors in former times, and exist up to the present 
day, much more than I could relate or explain. I 
merely enumerated the varieties, such as hantu, 
sheitan^ polong? pontianak^ penanggalan? jin? pelisit? 
mambang? hantu pemburu? hantu rimba, jadi-jadi- 

1 Hantu and sheitan are generic 6 ThePe/isttorPH/sif, like the /Wof, 

terms for evil spirits, the former being is a familiar spirit (vide pp. 329-331, 

the Malay term, the latter Arabic. infra). 

- The Polong is a familiar spirit. 6 The Mambangs are inferior Malay 
8 The Pontianak and PUnanggalan divinities (vide pp. 88 n., 91-93, supra). 

are childbirth spirits (vide pp. 327, 328, 7 The Hantu PUmburu is the Spectre 

infra). Huntsman (vide pp. 113-120, infra), 

* They* is the genie of the "Arabian for whom Hantu Rimba is probably a 
Nights " (vide pp. 93-97, supra). mere synonym. 



an, 1 hantu bengkus? bota, gargasi, raksaksa? nenek 
kabayan? himbasan? sawan? hantu mati di-bunoh? 
bajang? katagoran, sempak-kan, puput-kan? 'efrit 
jemalang^ terkena ubat guna Besides all these 
there are ever so many ilmu-ilmu (branches of secret 
knowledge), all of which I could not remember, such 
as gagah penundok^ pengasih kebal kasaktian^ 
tuju 'alimun,~ Q penderas^- perahuh^ chucha?* pelali^ 
perangsang and a quantity of others. All these are 

1 The Jadi-jadian is the Were-tiger 
(vide pp. 160-163, infra}. 

2 The Bengkus I have not yet been 
able to identify. 

3 The Bota, Gargasi, and Raksasa 
(not raksaksa) are giants. 

4 The Nenek Kabayan does not 
appear to be a ghost at all ; it may, 
however, possibly be a rare synonym 
for some well-known character in Malay 
folklore (such as the wife of the Man 
in the Moon). It is not so explained in 
the best Dutch dictionaries, however, 
but simply as the village messenger 
(dorpsbode) who sells flowers and 
carries lovers' messages. 

6 The Himbasan I have not yet 

6 The Sawan (i.e. Hantu Sawan) 
is the demon or devil which is believed 
to cause convulsions. 

7 The Hantu (orang) mati di-bunoh 
is the ghost of a murdered man. 

8 The Bajang is a familiar spirit 
(vide pp. 320-325, infra). 

9 The Hantu katagoran, sempak- 
kan, and puput-kan I have not been 
able to identify, and as the two last 
possess the verbal suffix it is clear that 
each is the name of a state or process 
and not of a ghost or demon. In fact, 
v. d. Wall gives (under sampok), 
ke'sampokan, which he explains as 
meaning " door een' boozen geest 
getroffen zijn," to be attacked or 
possessed by an evil spirit, which is 
doubtless the correcter form of the 
word. So with puput - kan, which 
is also a verbal form meaning (ace. to 
v. d. W.) "to blow (tr.)," to " sound a 
wind instrument." It would seem 

that 'Abdullah's list of "ghosts" is 
not very systematically drawn up. 

10 The l efrit is a spirit of Arabian 

11 The Jemalang (Je"mbalang) is a 
Malay earth-spirit. 

12 T2rk2na is a past participial form 
used of people who are thought to be 
"struck by" or "affected by" one of 
the foregoing demons. 

13 Ubat guna is a love-philtre. 

14 Gagah (usually pgnggagaK) is 
the art of making one's self bold or 

15 Ptfnundok, the art of making one's 
enemy yield (tundok). 

16 Pfngasih, the art of making one's 
self beloved by another. 

17 KZbal (p?ng2bal) the art of making 
one's self invulnerable. 

18 Kasaktian, the art of acquiring 
magic powers. 

19 Tuju (pfnuju), the art called 

20 'Alimun, the art of making one's 
self invisible. 

21 PendZras, the art of making one's 
self swift-footed. 

22 Perahuh (a misprint for pZruah 
=peruang ?) that of keeping water at a 
distance from one's face when diving, 
and also, it is said, of walking on 
the water without sinking below the 

23 Chucha is, I believe, a love 

24 Pelali, is the art of numbing or 
deadening pain. 

25 PPrangsang, the art of exciting or 
whetting the temper of the dogs when 


firmly believed in by the people. Some of these arts 
have their professors (guru) from whom instruction 
may be got. Others have their doctors, who can say 
this is such and such a disease, and this is the remedy 
for it, and besides these there are all those arts which 
are able to cause evil to man. When Mr. M. heard 
all this he was astonished and wondered, and said, 
' Do you know the stories of all these ? ' I replied, 
' If I were to explain all about them it would fill a 
large book, and the contents of the book would be 
all ignorance and nonsense without any worth, and 
sensible persons would not like to listen to it, they 
would merely laugh at it.' " l 

To the foregoing the following list of spirits and 
ghosts may be added. 

The Hantu Kubor (Grave Demons) are the spirits 
of the dead, who are believed to prey upon the living 
whenever they get an opportunity. With them may 
be classed the "Hantu orang mati di-bunoh" or 
" spirits of murdered men." 

" ^he Hantu Ribut is the storm-fiend that howls 
in the bfcist and revels in the whirlwind." : 

The Hantu Ayer and Hantu Laut are Water and 
Sea-spirits, and the Hantu Bandan is the Spirit of 
the Waterfall, which "may often be seen lying prone 
on the water, with head like an inverted copper 
(kawak)" where he water rushes down the fall between 
the rocks. 

The Hantu Loaggak 8 is continually looking up in 

1 Hik. Abdullah, p. 145. [Maxwell is sometimes identified with the Hantu 
v&J.R,A.S.,S.B.,'No.\i,N.andQ., Pemburu, or wild huntsman, who, 
No. 4, sec. 98.] after hunting the earth, harked on his 

2 Newbold, op. cit. vol.u. p. 191. dogs through the sky, and whose head, 

3 The name of this derron is prob- from his continually looking upwards, 
ably connected with the Many dongak, became fixed in that position. 

which means to "look upwards." It 


the air. Those who are attacked by him foam at the 

The Hantu Rimba (Deep-forest Demon), Hantu 
Raya 1 ("Great" Demon), Hantu Denei (Demon of 
Wild-beast-tracks), the Hantu-hantuan (Echo-spirits), 
and I think the Hantu Bakal, are all spirits of the 
jungle, but are perhaps somewhat less localised than 
the large class of spirits (such as the Malacca-cane, 
gharu, gutta, and camphor- tree spirits) which are 
specially associated with particular trees. 

The Hantu B'rok is the Baboon Demon (the 
B'rok being what is generally called the " cocoa-nut 
monkey," a sort of big baboon) ; it is sometimes 
supposed to take possession of dancers, and enable 
them, whilst unconscious, to perform wonderful climb- 
ing feats. 

The Hantu Belian, according to many Selangor 
Malays, is a tiger-spirit which takes the form of a bird. 
This bird is said to be not unlike the raquet-tailed 
king-crow (chenchawt), and to sit on the tiger's bsck, 
whence it plucks out the tiger's fur and swallows it, 
never allowing it to fall to the ground. 2 

The Hantu Songkei 3 is the spirit who so often 
interferes with the toils for catching wild animals and 
snares for wildfowl (yang kachau jarinf dan rachik\. 
He is described as being invisible below the breast, 

1 The Hantu Raya is sometimes said fere with are^nares and rope-traps, and 
to dwell in the centre of four cross- as the most obvious way in which they 
roads. There is a sea-spirit of the same could be ' interfered " with would be 
name, Si Raya, which should, however, by untying or loosening their knots, 
probably be identified with Batara the connection between the name of 
Guru. this spirit md the Malay rungkei 

2 Malay Sketches, p. 197. to unloose or undo, is sufficiently 

3 The name of this Demon (songkei obvious. The name, therefore, would 
= sa-ungkei?) is no doubt connected appear to mean the "Untying" or 
with the Malay ungkei or rungkei, " Looseniig Demon," naturally a most 
which means to undo or unloose a knot. vexatious >pirit to have anywhere near 
The only traps which it is said to inter- your snaS or nooses. 


with a nose of enormous length, and eye-sockets 
stretched sideways to such an extent that he can see 
all round him. 

The following charm is recited in order to 
" neutralise " his evil influence : 

Peace be with you, grandson of the Spectre Huntsman, 

Whose Dwelling-place is a solitary patch of primeval forest, 

Whose Chair is the nook between the buttresses (of trees), 

Whose Leaning-post the wild Areca-palm, 

Whose Roof the (leaves of the) Tukas, 

Whose Body-hairs are leaves of the Re'sam, 

Whose Mattress leaves of the Lerek, 

Whose Swing the (tree) Medang Jelawei, 

And whose Swing-ropes are Malacca-cane-plants 

The Gift of His Highness Sultan Berumbongan, 

Who dwelt at Pagar Ruyong, 

In the House whose posts were heart of the Tree-nettle, 

Whose threshold a stem of Spinach, 

Strewn over with stems of the Purut-purut, 

Whose Body-hairs were inverted, 

And whose Breasts were four in number, 

To whom belonged the Casting-net for Flies, 

And whose drum was "headed" with the skins of lice. 

Break not faith with me, 

(Or) you shall be killed by the Impact of the Sanctity of the 

Four Corners of the World, 
Killed by the Impact of the Forty-four Angels, 
Killed by the Impact of the Pillar of the Ka'bah, 
Killed by the Thrust of the sacred Lump of Iron, 
Killed by the Shaft of the Thunderbolt, 
Killed by the Pounce of Twilight Lightning, 
Killed by the Impact of the Thirty Sections of the Koran, 
Killed by the Impact of the Saying, " There is no god but God," 


Giants are called Bota (Bhuta), Raksasa, and 
Gargasi (gasi-gasi or gegasi\ or sometimes Hantu 
Tinggi (" Tall Demons "), the first two of these names 
being clearly derivable from a Sanskrit origin. 

In addition to those enumerated we may add the 
various classes of " good people," such as the Bidadari 


(or Bediadari) or Peri (fairies and elves), which are 
of foreign origin, and the " Orang Bunyian," a class 
of Malay spirits about whom very little seems known. 
The latter appear to be a race of good fairies, who are 
so simple-minded that they can be very easily cheated. 
Thus it is always said of them, that whenever they 
come into a hamlet, as they may occasionally do, to 
buy anything, they always pay without bargaining 
whatever price is asked, however exorbitant it may be. 
I have been told of their existence at Kapar village 
(near Klang in Selangor), at Jugra, where it was said 
they might formerly be heard paddling their boats 
upon the river when no boat was visible, and else- 

Besides these there are several kinds of blood- 
sucking (vampire) demons, which are mostly Birth- 
spirits ; and also certain inciibi, such as the Hantu 
Kopek, which is the Malay equivalent of our own 



(a) Air 


NOT the least important attribute of the Malay magi- 
cian in former days was his power of controlling the 
weather a power of which Malay magic incantations 
still preserve remarkable traces. 

Thus when the wind fails and the sails of a boat 
are flapping (kalau layer K lepek-K lepefc), a Selangor 
magician would not unfrequently summon the wind in 
the following terms : 

" Come hither, Sir, come hither, my Lord, 
Let down your locks so long and flowing." 

And if the wind is contrary he would say : 

" Veer round, Wind, a needle or twain (of the compass), 
A needle to (let me) fetch Kapar}- 
However heavy the merchandise that I carry unassisted, 
Let me repair to Klang.ioi the (morning) meal, 
And Langat for the (evening) bathe. 

1 Kapar, Klang, Langat: the Pawang in succession during the day "if the 

(magician) mentions, by way of example, wind will listen to him." The Pawang 

the names of three places on the Se- who told me this was a Kapar man 

langor coast which he wishes to visit ('Che 'Akob). 


1 08 AIR 

Come hither, Sir, come hither, my Lord, 
And let down your locks so long and flowing." 

Again, if the wind grew violent he would say : 

"Eggs of the House-lizard, Eggs of the Grass-lizard, 
Make a trio with Eggs of the Tortoise. 
I plant this pole thus in the mid-stream 
(That) Wind and Tempest may come to naught. 
Let the White (ones) turn into Chalk, 
And the Black (one) into Charcoal. 1 

Sometimes the magician will fasten a rice-spoon 
(chemcha) 2 horizontally to the mast of the vessel, and 
repeat some such charm as the following : 

"The bird ' Anggau-anggau ' flies 
To perch on the house of Malim Palita. 
May you die as you lean, may you die from a push, 
May you die by this ' sending ' of ' Prince Rice-spoon's.' " 3 

Of rain-making ceremonies in Selangor there now 
remains little but tradition. Yet a Langat Malay told 
me that if a Malay woman puts upon her head an 
inverted 4 earthenware pan (fflanga), and then, setting 
it upon the ground, fills it with water and washes the 
cat in it until the latter is more than half drowned, 
heavy rain will certainly ensue. 5 

1 The first two lines are no doubt 3 Pngiran Chgmcha, which I trans- 
(as elsewhere) a sort of rhymed memoria late Prince Rice-spoon, appears to be 
tecknica, intended to "memorise" the a mock title of Bornean origin. Thus 
accessories required for the rite. The we read that "Pngiran"or "Pangeran" 
tortoise here would appear to be a is the title of the four Ministers of State 
symbol of rain, as among the Sakais (wazirs) in Brunei, one of whom was 
(wild tribes) of the Malay Peninsula. called Pengiran Pamancha, of which the 
v. Haddon, Evolution of Art, p. 246. present name (Pengiran ChSmcha) looks 
Can the "white "(or gray?) "ones" like a corruption. J.R.A.S., S.B., 
be the two lizards ; and the " black No. 20, p. 36. 

one " the tortoise ? The grass lizards 4 Inverted (I was given to under- 

are of various colours. stand), by way of symbolising the vault 

2 The rice-spoon is a favourite weapon of heaven a good example of sympa- 
against spirits of evil, v. Maxwell in thetic magic. 
J.R.A.S.^S.B.^o. 7, p. 19, which de- 6 For other superstitions about the 

scribes how a woman in travail is armed cat, vide pp. 190-192, infra. 
with a [rice-] spoon during an eclipse. 


On the other hand the recital of the following charm 
will, it is believed, effectually stop the heaviest down- 
pour : 

"Though the stem of the MSranti tree 1 rocks to and fro (in the 


Let the Yam leaves be as thick as possible, 2 
That Rain and Tempest may come to naught." 

With the foregoing should be classed such charms 
as are used by the Malays to dispel the yellow sunset 
glow. 3 


The chief features of the Bird-lore of the Peninsular 
Malays, which, as will appear in the course of this 
chapter, is strongly tinged with animism, have been 
thus described by Sir William Maxwell : 

" Ideas of various characters are associated by 
Malays with birds of different kinds, and many of 
their favourite similes are furnished by the feathered 
world. The peacock strutting in the jungle, the 
argus pheasant calling on the mountain peak, the hoot 
of the owl, and the cry of the night-jar, have all 
suggested comparisons of various kinds, which are 
embodied in the proverbs of the people. 4 The Malay 

1 The mtranti is a fine hard-wood The idea is that the beauty of the 
forest tree. bird is thrown away when exhibited in 

2 i.e. "May we be well sheltered." a lonely spot where there is none to 

3 Vide p. 93, supra. admire it. 

4 The proverbs referred to are to be 

found in the collections of proverbs ? 2 ' Sepertt ponggok menndu bulan. 

sent by Mr. Maxwell to Nos. i, 2, " As the owl sighs longingly to the 

and 3 of the Journal of the Straits moon." 

Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. A figure often used by Mal in 

The numbers are consecutive. describing the longing of a lover for 

4. Apa guna-nia merak mengigal di his mistress. It recalls a line in 

hutan? Gray's "Elegy," "The moping owl 

"What is the use of the peacock doth to the moon complain." [As to 

strutting in the jungle ? " the story connected with the ponggok, 




is a keen observer of nature, and his illustrations, 
drawn from such sources, are generally just and often 

" The supernatural bird Gerda (Garuda, the eagle of 
Vishnu), who figures frequently in Malay romances, is 
dimly known to the Malay peasant. If, during the 
day, the sun is suddenly overcast by clouds and 
shadow succeeds to brilliancy, the Perak Malay will 
say " Gerda is spreading out his wings to dry." l Tales 
are told, too, of other fabulous birds 2 the jintayu, 
which is never seen, though its note is heard, and 
which announces the approach of rain ; 8 and the 
chandrawasi, which has no feet. The chandrawasi 

vide infra, p. 122. Capt. Kelham, vide 
infra, supposes the ponggok to be 
Scops lempiji, Horsf.] 
73. Seperti kuang mekik di-puchuk 


" Like the argus pheasant calling on 
the mountain peak." 

Another poetical simile for a complain- 
ing lover. Here he is compared to a 
lonely bird sounding its note far from 
all companions. 
93. Seperti tetegok di-rumah tinggal. 

" Like the night-jar at a deserted 

The tegok or tetegok is a bird common 
in the Malay Peninsula, whose habits 
are nocturnal and solitary. It has a 
peculiar, liquid, monotonous call. The 
phrase is used to signify the solitude 
and loneliness of a stranger in a Malay 

Elsewhere (in notes afterwards 
published in the Selangor Journal} 
(vol. i. No. 23, p. 360) Sir W. E. 
Maxwell says " The burong tetegok is 
not a night bird, but flies by day. It 
can be distinguished by its short rapid 
note, which resembles tegok-tegok-tegok- 
tegok" Apparently Sir W. E. Maxwell 
identifies this bird with the Malay night- 
jar (Caprimulgus macrurus. Horsf.) 
described by Capt. Kelham, in No. 9, 

page 122 of ttieJ.R.A.S., S.B. None 
of the Dutch Dictionaries identify it 
clearly, though Klinkert (probably 
wrongly) identifies it with the small 
owl called ponggok, which is taken by 
Capt. Kelham to be Scops IPmpiji, 

1 Gerda meniumur kepah-nia. 

2 Another fabulous bird which Max- 
well does not mention is the Walimana 
(which I have more than once heard 
called Wilmana in Selangor). On the 
identity of this bird,my friend Mr. Wilkin- 
son, of the Straits Civil Service, sends me 
in a letter the following note : "The 
word is walimana. I have often met 

it in old MSS. written/. 

The ' wait ' is the same as the second 
word in Rajawali. The mana is 
' human ' ; cp. man, manushya, etc. 
The ivalimana in old Javanese pottery 
is represented as a bird with a human 
head, a sort of harpy. In the Hikayat 
Sang Samba it is the steed of Maharaja 
Boma, and repeatedly speaks to its 

3 Laksanajintayu menantikan hujan 
"as tiiejintayu awaits the rain," is a 
proverbial simile for a state of anxiety 
and despondency. Jintayu = jatayu 
(Sanskrit), a fabulous vulture. 


lives in the air, and is constantly on the wing, never 
descending to earth or alighting on a tree. Its young 
even are produced without the necessity of touching 
the earth. The egg is allowed to drop, and as it nears 
the earth it bursts, and the young bird appears fully 
developed. The note of the chandrawasi may often 
be heard at night, but never by day, and it is lucky, 
say the Malays, to halt at a spot where it is heard 

" There is an allusion to this bird in a common 
pantun a kind of erotic stanza very popular among 
the Malays : 

" Chandrawasi burong sakti, 
Sangat berkurong didalam awan, 
Gonda gulana didalam hati, 
Sahari tidak memandang tuan}- 

" Nocturnal birds are generallyconsidered ill-omened 
all over the world, and popular superstition among the 
Malays fosters a prejudice against one species of 
owl. If it happens to alight and hoot near a house, 
the inhabitants say significantly that there will soon be 

1 The chandrawasi, bird of power, romances) to the golden oriole and even 

Is closely hidden among the clouds. to the ostrich. In the Malay Peninsula, 

Anxiety reigns in my heart, too, it is said to fly feet upwards (which 

Each day that I see not my love. peculiarity it shares, according to Mr. 

[To the above I may perhaps be Clifford, with the Btrek-berek, Pub. 

allowed to add that the (dialectal) form J-R.A.S.,S.B.,Hik.Raj.Budiman,^- 

chandrawasiris the form generally used " 35)> an ^ its eggs are sometimes said, 

in the southern part of Selangor (where on falling, to develop into the snake 

the final "r" is still commonly pre- called chintamani. It is always 

served). The regular (Dictionary) form considered lucky, and the "Bird of 

of the word, however, appears to be Paradise Prayer," (do'a chandrawasi) 

chandrawasih or chtndfrawaseh (the a s it is called, generally takes an 

forms chJnddrawangsa, chfndfrawasa, important place in the formulas recited 

and chtndSrawangseh being also found). at the ceremonies connected with the 

In origin the word is undoubtedly Rice-soul, q.v. For the confusion 

Sanskrit. between the chandrawasi and berek- 

It means the Bird of Paradise, but in berek (probably due to the fact that 

those Malay countries where the Bird the chfndrawasi t or Bird of Paradise, is 

of Paradise is unknown, it is also n t to be found in the Peninsula) vide 

applied to other birds, such as (in Malay note on App. xxx.] 


' tearing of cloth ' (koyak kapan) for a shroud. This 
does not apply to the small owl called punggok, which, 
as soon as the moon rises, may often be heard to emit 
a soft plaintive note. The note of the punggok is 
admired by the Malays, who suppose it to be sighing 
for the moon, and find in it an apt simile for a despond- 
ing lover. 

" The baberek or birik-birik, another nocturnal bird, 
is a harbinger of misfortune. This bird is said to fly 
in flocks at night ; it has a peculiar note, and a passing 
flock makes a good deal of noise. If these birds are 
heard passing, the Perak peasant brings out a 
sengkalan (a wooden platter on which spices are 
ground), and beats it with a knife, or other domestic 
utensil, calling out as he does so: " Nenek, bawa 
hati-nia " (" Great-grandfather, bring us their hearts "). 
This is an allusion to the belief that the bird baberek 
flies in the train of the Spectre Huntsman (hantu 
pembnru), who roams Malay forests with several 
ghostly dogs, and whose appearance is the forerunner 
of disease or death. " Bring us their hearts " is a 
mode of asking for some of his game, and it is hoped 
that the request will delude the hantu pemburu 
into the belief that the applicants are ra'iyat, or 
followers of his, and that he will, therefore, spare the 

" The baberek? which flies with the wild hunt, bears 
a striking resemblance to the white owl, Totosel, the 
nun who broke her vow, and now mingles her "tutu " 
with the " holloa " of the Wild Huntsman of the Harz. 2 

1 The baberek appears to be yet events, the legend of the Wild Hunts- 
another name for the goat-sucker or man and his dogs (or Gabriel's Hounds, 
night -jar (Caprimulgus macrurns, as they are often called) is explained by 
Horsf.) Dawn of History, page 171. the cries of wild geese flying over- 

2 As it appears that in Europe, at all head on dark nights, it seems most 


" The legend of the Spectre Huntsman is thus told 
by the Perak Malays : 

"In former days, at Katapang, in Sumatra, there 
lived a man whose wife, during her pregnancy, was 
seized with a violent longing for the meat of the pelan- 
dok (mouse-deer). But it was no ordinary pelandok 
that she wanted. She insisted that it should be a doe, 
big with male offspring, and she bade her husband go 
and seek in the jungle for what she wanted. The 
man took his weapons and dogs and started, but his 
quest was fruitless, for he had misunderstood his wife's 
injunctions, and what he sought was a buck pelandok, 
big with male offspring, an unheard-of prodigy. 

convenient to give the Malay legend in 
connection with the birds with which the 
Malays associate him. The explanation 
to which I refer is to be found in Prof. 
Newton's Dictionary of Birds (1893), 
sub voce "Gabble-ratchet." I quote 
in exienso : 

"In many parts of England, but 
especially in Yorkshire, the cries of 
some kind of wild goose, 1 when flying 
by night, are heard with dismay by 
those who do not know the cause of 
them, and are attributed to ' Gabriel's 
Hounds,' an expression equivalent to 
'Gabble -ratchet,' a term often used 
for them, as in this sense gabble is said 
to be a corruption of Gabriel, and that, 
according to some mediaeval glossaries, 
is connected with gabbara or gabares, a 
word meaning a corpse (cp. Way, 
Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 320, 
su6 voce ' Lyche ') ; while ratchet is 
undoubtedly the same as the Anglo- 
Saxon race and Middle English racche 
or rache, a dog that hunts by scent and 
gives tongue. Hence the expression 
would originally mean ' corpse- 
hounds,' and possibly has to do with 
legends such as that of the Wild Hunts- 
man. . . . The sounds are at times 
very marvellous, not to say impressive, 
when heard, as they almost invariably 

are, on a pitch-dark night, and it has 
more than once happened within the 
writer's knowledge that a flock of 
geese, giving utterance to them, has 
continued for some hours to circle over 
a town or village in such a way as to 
attract the attention of the most un- 
observant of its inhabitants, and inspire 
with terror those among them who are 
prone to superstition. (Cp. Atkinson, 
Notes and Queries, ser. 4, vii. pp. 
439, 440, and Cleveland Glossary, p. 
203 ; Herrtage, Catholicon Anglicum, 
p. 147 ; Robinson, Glossary Whitby, 
(Engl. Dial. Soc.) p. 74; and Addy, 
Glossary Sheffield (Engl. Dial. Soc.) 
p. 83. Mr. Charles Swainson (Prov. 
Names, Br. B., p. 98), gives 'Gabble- 
ratchet ' as a name of the night-jar, 
but satisfactory proof of that statement 
seems to be wanting." 2 

1 Prof. Newton here has a note : " Presum- 
ably the BRANT, on the rare occasions when, 
losing its way, it comes inland, for the call- 
notes proceeding from a flock of this species 
curiously resemble the sound of hounds in full 
cry (Thompson, B. Irel. iii. p. 59), though 
some hearers liken them to the yelping of 
puppies. The discrepancy may to some extent 
depend on distance." 

2 Possibly the sounds made by the geese 
might be attributed to the night - jar by 
peasants through the latter' s appearing at the 
time they were made. It is curious that the 
Malays as well should connect the night-jar 
with the Wild Huntsman. 


11 Day and night he hunted, slaying innumerable 
mouse-deer, which he threw away on finding that they 
did not fulfil the conditions required. 

" He had sworn a solemn oath on leaving home that 
he would not return unsuccessful, so he became a 
regular denizen of the forest, eating the flesh and 
drinking the blood of the animals which he slew, and 
pursuing night and day his fruitless search. At length 
he said to himself : ' I have hunted the whole earth 
over without finding what I want ; it is now time to 
try the firmament.' So he holloa'd on his dogs through 
the sky, while he walked below on the earth looking 
up at them, and after a long time, the hunt still being 
unsuccessful, the back of his head, from constantly 
gazing upwards, became fixed to his back, and he was no 
longer able to look down at the earth. One day a leaf 
from the tree called St Limbak fell on his throat and 
took root there, and a straight shoot grew upwards in 
front of his face. 1 In this state he still hunts through 
Malay forests, urging on his dogs as they hunt through 
the sky, with his gaze evermore turned upwards. 2 

"His wife, whom he left behind when he started 
on the fatal chase, was delivered in due time of two 
children a boy and a girl. When they were old 
enough to play with other children, it chanced one day 
that the boy quarrelled with the child of a neighbour 
with whom he was playing. The latter reproached him 
with his father's fate, of which the child had hitherto 

1 Selangor Malays add further that (pinang senawar). He then binds it 
his whole body became overgrown up again with a creeper (akar gasing- 
with orchids, a conceit which recalls gasing), and roasts it over an earth 
their story of a local hero who went on hearth (saleian), the floor (lantei) of 
swimming in the sea until his body which is of the pinang boring (another 
became covered with oysters ! wild areca palm), and covers it over 

2 The Spectre Huntsman is said to with wild banana leaves (tudong salei 
butcher (bantai) his game, whenever he daun pisang hutan] and leaves of the 
gets it, under a kind of wild areca palm r/sai bracken. 


been ignorant, saying : ' Thou art like thy father, who 
has become an evil spirit, ranging the forests day and 
night, and eating and drinking no man knows how. 
Get thee to thy father.' 

" Then the boy ran crying to his mother and related 
what had been said to him. ' Do not cry,' said she, 
' it is true, alas ! that thy father has become a spirit of 
evil.' On this the boy cried all the more, and begged 
to be allowed to join his father. His mother yielded 
at last to his entreaties, and told him the name of his 
father and the names of the dogs. He might be 
known, she said, by his habit of gazing fixedly at the 
sky and by his four weapons a blow-pipe (sumpitan), 
a spear, a kris, and a sword (klewang). 'And,' added 
she, ' when thou hearest the hunt approaching, call 
upon him and the dogs by name, and repeat thy own 
name and mine, so that he may know thee.' 

"The boy entered the forest, and, after he had 
walked some way, met an old man who asked him 
where he was going. 'I go to join my father/ said 
the lad. ' If thou findest him,' said the old man, 'ask 
him where he has put my chisel which he has borrowed 
from me.' This the boy promised to do, and con- 
tinued his journey. After he had gone a long way he 
heard sounds like those made by people engaged in 
hunting. As they approached, he repeated the names 
which his mother had told him, and immediately found 
himself face to face with his father. The hunter de- 
manded of him who he was, and the child repeated all 
that his mother had told him, not forgetting the message 
of the old man about the chisel. Then the hunter said : 
' Truly thou art my son. As for the chisel, it is true 
that when I started from home I was in the middle of 
shaping some bamboos to make steps for the house. 


I put the chisel inside one of the bamboos. Take it 
and return it to the owner. Return now and take care 
of thy mother and sister. As for him who reproached 
thee, hereafter we will repay him. I will eat his heart 
and drink his blood, so shall he be rewarded.' 

" From that time forward the Spectre Huntsman has 
afflicted mankind, and many are those whom he has 
destroyed. Before dismissing his son, he desired him 
to warn all his kindred never to use bamboo for mak- 
ing steps for a house, and never to hang clothes to dry 
from poles stuck in between the joists supporting the 
floor, and thus jutting out at right angles with a house, 
' lest,' said he, ' I should strike against such poles as I 
walk along. Further,' he continued, 'when ye hear 
the note of the bird birik-birik at night, ye will know 
that I am walking near.' 

"Then the boy returned to his mother and de- 
livered to her and all their kindred the injunctions of the 
lost man. One account says that the woman followed 
her spectre husband to the forest, where she joins in 
the chase with him to this day, and that they have 
there children born in the woods. The first boy and 
girl retained their human form, according to this 
account, but some Pawangs say that the whole family 
are in the forest with the father. 1 

" Numerous mantra, or charms, against the evil 
influence of the Wild Huntsman are in use among the 

1 Selangor Malays add that the kunta and pinang kunta. Before 

Spectre Huntsman himself instructed administering it, however, an augury 

his son how to cure people who were has to be taken : young shoots of the 

suffering from the effects of his magic. (wild ?) cotton - tree (puchok daim 

These instructions were : "Take leaves kapas) are plucked and have the sap 

of the bonglei, resam, gasing-gasing, squeezed out of them (dj-ramas). If 

and wild banana, shred and distil them the liquor is red the patient may be 

(di-ttraskan), and administer the potion cured ; but if it has a black look, 

to the patient, together with sirih nothing can be done to save him." 


g> a J3 

1 I *-fl 

if* * 3 
o v "^ *" 

^^ i; jT -g 

n S. P - 
I w ~'i 

_ .. .M 

2 It g 

S '-5 


Pawangs, or medicine-men of Perak. These are re- 
peated, accompanied by appropriate ceremonies, when 
the disease from which some sick person is suffering 
has been traced to an encounter with the hantu 

" The following may serve as a specimen :- 

" Bi-smi-lldhi-r-rahmdni-r-rahim. 
Es-salamu ^aleykum Hei Si Jidi laki Mah Jadah. 

Pergi buru ka-rimba Ranchah Mahang. 

Katapang nama bukit-nia, 

Si Langsat nama anjing-nta, 

Si Kumbang nama anjing-nia, 

Si Nibong nama anjing-nia, 

Si Pintas nama anjing-nia, 

Si Aru-Aru nama anjing-nya, 

Timiang JBalu nama sumpitan-nia, 

Lankapuri nama lembing-nia, 

Singha-buana nama mata-nia, 

Pisau raut panjang ulu 

Akan pemblah pinang berbulu, 

Ini-lah pisau raut deripada Maharaja Guru, 

Akan pemblah prut hantu pemburu. 

Aku tahu asal angkau mula menjadi orang Katapang. 

Pulang-lah angkau ka rimba Ranchah Mahang. 

Jangan angkau meniakat-meniakit pada tuboh badan-ku. 

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, 
Peace be on thee, O Si Jidi, husband of Mah Jadah. 

Go thou and hunt in the forest of Ranchah Mahang. 

Katapang is the name of thy hill, 

Si Langsat is the name of thy dog, 

Si Kumbang is the name of thy dog, 

Si Nibong is the name of thy dog, 

Si Pintas is the name of thy dog, 

Si Aru-Aru is the name of thy dog, 

Timiang Balu is the name of thy blow-pipe 

1 The sickness which results from or summons (katHgoran) begins with 

crossing the path of the Spectre Hunts- persistent fever (d/mam salama-la- 

ma.n(kalintasan) has choleraic symptoms ma-nya), but does not prove so rapidly 

(vomiting and voiding) and is quickly fatal, 
fatal ; that resulting from his challenge 


Lankapuri is the name of thy spear, 

Singha-buana is the name of its blade, 

The peeling-knife with a long handle 

Is to split in twain the fibrous betel-nut. 

Here is a knife from Maharaja Guru, 

To cleave the bowels of the Hunter-Spirit. 

I know the origin from which thou springest, 

O man of Katapang. 

Get thee back to the forest of Ranchah Mahang. 

Afflict not my body with pain or disease. 

" In charms intended to guard him who repeats 
them, or who wears them written on paper, against 
the evil influences of the Spectre Huntsman, the 
names of the dogs, weapons, etc., constantly vary. 
The origin of the dreaded demon is always, how- 
ever, ascribed to Katapang 1 in Sumatra. This super- 
stition strikingly resembles the European legends 
of the Wild Huntsman, whose shouts the trembling 
peasants hear above the storm. It is, no doubt, of 
Aryan origin, and, coming to the Peninsula from 
Sumatra, seems to corroborate existing evidence tend- 
ing to show that it is partly through Sumatra that the 
Peninsula has received Aryan myths and Indian 
phraseology. A superstitious prejudice against the 
use of bamboo in making a step-ladder for a Malay 
house and against drying clothes outside a house on 
poles stuck into the framework, exists in full force 
among the Perak Malays. 

" The note of the birik-birik at night, telling as it 
does of the approach of the hantu pemburu, is listened 
to with the utmost dread and misgiving. The Bataks 
in Sumatra call this bird by the same name birik-birik. 
It is noticeable that in Batak legends regarding the 
creation of the world, the origin of mankind is ascribed 

1 As to this, vide App. xxx. , note. 


to Putri-Orta-Bulan, the daughter of Batara-Guru, 
who descended to the earth with a white owl and a dog"^ 

To the information contained in the foregoing pas- 
sage I would add the following observations : 

Charms for neutralising the power of the Spectre 
Huntsman are by no means uncommon, and though 
they almost invariably differ in unimportant details, 
such as the names of his dogs and weapons, they still 
bear strong and unmistakable family likeness. Still 
there are some versions which contain important 
divergencies (two or three of these versions will be 
found in the Appendix), and it will only be after the 
diligent collation and compilation of a great many 
versions that the real germ or nucleus of the myth as 
known to the Malays will be clearly apparent. 

One of the charms given in the Appendix evi- 
dently alludes to a different version of the story ; the 
lines which contain the allusion being as follows : 

" I know your origin, O man of penance, 
Whose dwelling was upon the hill of Mount Ophir, 
[You sprang] from a son of the Prophet Joseph who was wroth 

with his mother, 
Because she would eat the hearts of the birds of Paradise." 

Yet even here, if we except the obvious interpola- 
tion of the reference to the "son of the Prophet 
Joseph," the task of reconciling the conflicting versions 
may be easier than would appear at first sight. 2 

A still more curious deviation occurs in another 
version, 3 where the Spectre Huntsman's poniard and 
Kris are declared to be the insignia of the great 
Spirit-King Rama. The passage is as follows : 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, pp. 12-18. 

2 Vide App. xxx., lines 13, 14, 15, and 16. 3 App. xxviii. 


" With a blind crow as his guide, 
The giant demon, Si Adunada, 
Carries (his weapons) slung over his shoulder with back bent 


Salampuri is the name of his poniard (sekiri), 
Silambuara the name of his ffris, 
The insignia of the Demon Rama." 

That it is his weapons which the Spectre Hunts- 
man's son (Adunada) carries on his back appears from 
a passage below, which runs : 

" O Si Adunada, with the sword slung at your back, 
Bent double you come from the lightwood swamps, 
We did not guess that you were here." 

This reference to Rama opens up a long vista of 
possibilities, but for the present it will be sufficient to 
remark that the Spectre Huntsman himself is almost 
universally declared by the Malays to be the King 
of the Land -folk (Raja orang darat\ It is on 
account of this kingship that his weapons receive 
distinguishing titles such as are given to royal 
weapons. This, too, is the reason that he is so much 
more dreaded by Malays than ordinary spirits of evil ; 
his mere touch being considered sufficient to kill, by 
the exercise of that divine power which all Malay 
Rajas are held to possess. 1 

To return from the foregoing digression : there are 
many other curious legends connected with Birds. 
Thus, in 1882, Captain Kelham wrote as follows : 

1 I was once stationed for about Huntsman (di-sepak ulch Hantu P2m- 
eighteen months in a small out-of- burn) as he was going down the hill to 
the -way village on the Selangor the village in the morning. He took 
coast, where three subordinate officers no notice of the occurrence and pro- 
of the Government (foremen of works) ceeded down the river in a boat. Three 
had died successively, at comparatively hours later he vomited mangrove leaves(!) 
short intervals. The last of these men, and was brought back dead ! Cp. N. 
I was informed by the local Malays, and Q., No. 2, sec. 32 (issued with 
received a kick from the Spectre J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 15). 


"From Mr. W. E. Maxwell, H.M. Assistant Resi- 
dent, of Larut, I hear that the Malays have a strange 
legend connected with one of the large Hornbills; but 
which species I was not able to find out. It is as fol- 
lows : 

" ' A Malay, in order to be revenged on his mother- 
in-law (why, the legend does not relate), shouldered 
his axe and made his way to the poor woman's house, 
and began to cut through the posts which supported it. 
After a few steady chops the whole edifice came 
tumbling down, and he greeted its fall with a peal of 
laughter. To punish him for his unnatural conduct he 
was turned into a bird, and the tebang mentuah (liter- 
ally, He who chopped down his mother-in-law) may 
often be heard in the jungle uttering a series of sharp 
sounds like the chop of an axe on timber, followed by 
Ha! ha! ha!'" 1 

The following account of the bird-lore of the Malay 
Peninsula was compiled by me from notes supplied 
to the Selangor Journal* by the late Sir William 
Maxwell : 

The Night-jar (Burong cheroh*} takes its name from 
the word applied to the second stage in the operation 
of husking rice. Malay women husk rice by pounding 
it in a mortar with a wooden pestle. The husked 
grain is then commonly winnowed in a sieve, and 

1 romJ.R.A,S., S.B., No. 9, pp. very high trees. The legend about it 

129, 130, " Malayan Ornithology," by is very common, but I do not know 

Captain H. R. Kelham, who adds : the scientific name of that particular 

"I asked Mr. Low, H.B.M. Resi- Hornbill ; but it is not that you refer 

dent of Perak, if he could give me any to, viz. Berenicomis comati4s, Raffles ; 

information as to which species of nor is it the Rhinoceros. ' " 

Hornbill this legend relates to, and he 2 Vol. i. No. 23, pp. 360-363. 

writes 3 If Sir W. E. Maxwell is right this 

" ' It is the largest Hornbill which is must be another name for the night-jar 

found in Perak, bigger, I should say, (vide p. lion, supra). But the identi- 

than the Rhinoceros Hornbill, but I fication is at least doubtful, 
have never seen it except flying, or on 


the unhusked rice (antak) which remains has to be 
separated from the husked rice and pounded over 
again. The second process, which is called cheroh, 
is that from which the night-jar derives its name, 
the quick fancy of the Malay hearing in the note 
of the bird the slow measured stroke of a pestle 
(antan) descending in a mortar (lesong). This is 
possibly the foundation of the legend that the Night- 
jar is a woman who, while engaged in husking rice 
by moonlight, was turned into a bird in consequence 
of a quarrel with her mother. Another name for 
the night-jar is burong chempak. 

The Burong sepah putri ("Princess's betel-quid") 
belongs to the Honey-birds or Bee-eaters, of which 
there are several species, remarkable chiefly for their 
brilliant metallic plumage. [A quaint story is told in 
explanation of its name : once upon a time the Owl 
{ponggok) fell in love with the Princess of the Moon 
(Putri Bulan) and asked her to marry him. She 
promised to do so, if he would allow her first to finish 
her quid of betel undisturbed ; but before finishing it 
she threw it down to the earth, where it took the form 
of the small bird in question. The Princess then 
requested the Owl to make search for it, but as, of 
course, he was unable to find it, the proposed match 
fell through. This is the reason why the Owl, to 
quote the Malay proverb, "sighs longingly to the 
Moon," and is the type of the plaintive lover. 1 ] 

The Burong tinggal anak (lit. "Good-bye, children " 
bird) is a small bird whose note is to be heard at the 
season when the young rice is sprouting (musim padi 
pechak anak}. As soon as her young are hatched 
out this bird dies in the nest, repeating the words 

1 Vide supra, p. 109, note. 


" Tinggal anak" ("Good-bye, children"), and the 
maggots which breed in her corpse afford an un- 
natural nourishment to her unsuspecting offspring. 

Burong diam 'kau Tuah, or " Hold your peace, 
Tuah," is the name of a small bird which is said to 
repeat the words 

" Diam 'kau, Tuah, 

K'ris aku ada," 

" Hold thy peace, Tuah, 

My Kris (dagger) is with me." 

The story runs that once upon a time there was a 
man who had a slave called Tuah, who answered him 
back, and with whom he accordingly found fault, using 
the words given above. In the transport of his 
rage he was turned into a bird. 

The bird called Kuau in Perak (kuau is the name 
given in Malacca and Selangor to the argus pheasant, 
which in Perak is called kuang] is about the size of 
the mynah (gambala kerbau), and is said to have 
been metamorphosed from a woman, the reason of 
whose transformation is not known. It is said to be 
unknown on the right bank of the Perak River. 

The " ' Kap-kap ' bird " is the name of a night-bird 
of evil omen, whose note heard at night prognosticates 

The Tearer of the shroud (Burong charik kapan) 
is also a night-bird, with a slow, deliberate note which 
the Malays declare sounds exactly like the tearing 
of cloth. 1 This signifies the tearing of the shroud, 
and unerringly forebodes death. Yet another night- 
bird ominous of approaching dissolution is the 
Tumbok larong. This bird, like the two preceding, 

1 Cp. Swett., Mai. Sketches, p. 1 60. 


is probably a variety of owl ; the first and third are 
only found inland at a distance from the sea. 

1 ' To/i katampi (" Old -man -winnow- the-rice-for-the- 
burial-feast," as Sir Frank Swettenham calls him, 1 ) is 
a species of horned owl, which derives its name from a 
word meaning to winnow (tampi, menampi\ Malays 
say that this bird has a habit of treading upon the 
extremities of its own wings, and fluttering the upper 
part while thus holding them down. This singular 
habit produces a sound resembling that of winnowing. 

The 'Tok katampi is larger than the Jampuk> 
another species of owl, which is popularly supposed 
to enter the fowl-house and there live on the intestines 
of fowls, which it extracts during life by means of a 
certain charm ('elmu pelali, a charm similar to those 
used by the Malays for filing teeth, etc.) which it 
uses in order to perform the operation painlessly. 

The " Luck-bird " (Burong untong] is a very small 
white bird about the size of a canary. It builds a 
very small white nest, which if found and placed in 
a rice-bin possesses the valuable property of securing 
a good harvest to its owner. As, however, the nest 
is built on branches in places difficult of access it is 
but rarely found, and Malays will give $10 for a 
genuine specimen, while sellers are known to ask as 
much as $25. 

The Ruwak-ruwak is a kind of Heron whose nest 
if discovered would give the possessor the power of 
becoming invisible (alimun). But as neither nest 
nor eggs can usually be found it is held to be child- 
less. Yet, however, if it is possible to approach 
sufficiently near, when the bird is heard calling in 
the swamps, it may be seen dipping a twig or else 

1 Swett., Mai. Sketches, pp. 159, 1 60. 


its bent leg into the water, and accompanying its 
action with its call, as if it were bathing a child on 
its knee ; hence the Malay who hears its note says 
mockingly, "the Ruwak-ruwak is bathing its young 

Tukang is the name given in Kedah to a 
kind of Hornbill, which is believed to be the same 
as the langlin of Perak. The horn is of a yellow 
tinge, and is made into buttons, which, the Malays 
say, turn to a livid colour whenever the wearer is 
about to fall sick, and black when he is threatened 
by the approach of poison. 1 

The Merbu (? merbok] is a variety of Dove which 
brings good luck to its owner. Instances have been 
known where all the houses in a village have been 
burnt except that which contained a merbu; indeed, 
treatises have been written on the subject of keeping 
them. When the merbu dies its body merely shrivels 
up instead of breeding worms, which, it is added, would 
be worth keeping as curiosities should any appear. 2 

The bird called Pedrudang is a diver which has 
the power of remaining under water for a very long 
time. It is only to be found where the fish called 
kelesah exist in large quantities. The eggs of the 
kelesah are of great size, and the Malays say, 

1 In Selangor I have heard a similar is the luckiest number of scales for one 
story ; but in this case it was a red- of these birds to possess. An example 
crested hornbill which supplied the is : " Manuk (3), Manumah (5), 
buttons, which latter were said to turn Sangkesa (6), Desa (i), Dewa (4), Raja 
green on the approach of poison. The (2)," which has to be repeated as the 
only solid-crested hornbill is, I believe, scales are counted (beginning with the 
the Rhinoplax. lowest scale). The numbers after the 

2 The amount of luck which goes words indicate the order of the luck 
with any particular bird of this species which the birds are supposed to bring ; 
depends on the number of scales on its a ground-dove of the first order bring- 
feet, for counting which certain verbal ing luck worth a ship's cargo (tuah 
categories (like our own "tinker, tailor, mtrbok tuah sa-kapal). I have kept 
soldier" formula) are used. Forty-four these birds myself. 


therefore, that it cohabits with the pedrudang. These 
eggs are considered a delicacy by the Malays, who 
make them into a sort of custard pudding (sri-kaya). 

To the Ground-pigeon (Tekukur) belongs the fol- 
lowing story: "Once upon a time there was a 
maiden who lived in the forest with her parents and 
little sister. When she grew up she was troubled 
by an anxiety to accompany her father in his ex- 
peditions to the forest, where he was engaged in 
clearing the ground for a rice - plantation. Her 
parents, however, persuaded her to stay at home ; 
first until the trees were felled, then until the fallen 
timber had been burnt off, then till the rice had been 
planted, and then again till it was cut. When, 
however, they attempted to put her off yet once 
more, until the rice should be trodden out, she 
could bear it no longer, and taking off her bracelets 
and earrings, which she left behind the door, and 
placing her little sister in the swinging - cot, she 
changed herself into a ground-dove and flew away to 
the clearing. [She retained her necklace, however, 
and this accounts for the speckled marks on this 
dove's neck.] On arriving at the spot where her 
parents were engaged at work, she alighted on a 
dead tree stump (changgong], and called out thrice to 
her mother, ' Mother, mother, I have left my earrings 
and bracelets behind the door, and have put my little 
sister in the swing.' Her mother, amazed at these 
words, hastened home, and found her daughter gone. 
She then returned to the bird, which repeated the 
same words as before, this time, however, concluding 
with the coo of a dove. In vain the distressed 
parents endeavoured to recapture her, by cutting 
down the tree on which she had perched ; before 


they had done so she flew to another, and after 
following her from tree to tree for several miles 
they were obliged to desist, and she was never 
recaptured." 1 

The following notes on birds are taken from a 
reprint 2 of "Museum Notes" by Mr. L. Wray, jun., 
the official curator of the Perak Museum. Mr. Wray 
says : 

" The Weaver-bird, which makes the long hanging 
bottle -shaped nests occasionally seen hanging from 
the branches of a low tree, is said to use a golden 
needle in the work ; and it is affirmed that if the 
nest is carefully picked to pieces, without breaking 
any part of it, the needle will be found ; but if it is 
pulled ruthlessly apart, or if even a single piece of 
the grass of which it is made is broken in unravelling 
it, the golden needle will disappear. The makers of 
these curious and beautiful nests are said to always 
choose trees that are infested with red ants or wasps, 
or which grow in impassable swamps." 

The Weaver-bird (Ploceus Baya, Blyth) is called 
(in Selangor) Burong Tempua or Ckiak Ray a. It is 
said to use only the long jungle grass called lalang 
for making its nest, which latter is called buah rabun, 
and is used by the Malays for polishing sheaths 
and scabbards. When an infant keeps crying, 
one of the parents takes the weaver- bird's nest, 
reduces it to ashes, and fumigates the child by thrice 
moving it round in a circle over the smoke. Whilst 
doing so, the parent either stands up with the right 
toe resting upon the toe of the left foot, or else squats 

J Cp. the Malay pantun : Lagi lumpor jala* sfmak 

Seoao kasin maka-nya datang." 

" Tfkvkur di gulti lemak 2 In Sel. Jount. vol. iii. No. 6, pp. 

Sulasi di-bawak g, ne 


upon the left heel, bending the right knee, and saying, 
' As the weaver-bird's young in its nest, so rest and 
weep not ' (Bagimana anak tempua dalam sarang-nya, 
bagitu-lah 'kau diam jangan menangis). To the 
above I may add that besides the ordinary bottle- 
shaped nest, the weaver-birds also occasionally make 
a hood-shaped, or rather a helmet-shaped nest, which 
is alleged by the Malays to be the male bird's 
' swing ' (buayan). This ' swing ' resembles the upper 
half of an ordinary bottle-shaped nest, with a perch 
across it, which latter is also woven of grass. On 
the walls of the swing, just over each end of the 
perch, is a small daub of clay. The Malays allege 
that the male bird swings in it while the hen bird 
is sitting, and that the young too 'take the air' in 
it as soon as they are able to fly so far. Into the 
two daubs of mud over the perch the male bird (say 
the Malays) sticks fire -flies to give itself light at 

" The King crow x is called by the Malays the Slave 
of the Monkeys (Burong hamba kra). It is a pretty, 
active, noisy little bird, incessantly flying about with 
its two long racquet -shaped tail feathers fluttering 
after it. They say that when it has both of these 
feathers it has paid off its debt and is free, but when 
it is either destitute of these appendages, or has only 
one, it is still in bondage. 

" The Gray Sea-eagle 2 is called Burong hamba siput 
'the Slave of the Shell-fish,' and its office is to give 
warning by screaming to the shell-fish of the changes 
of the tide, so that they may regulate their move- 
ments, and those species which crawl about on the 
mud at low water may know when to take refuge 

1 Disscmurus platurus, Vieill. 2 Halitztus leucogastcr, Gm. 


in the trees and escape the rising tide, or when the 
tide is falling, that they may know when to descend 
to look for food. 

"The Burong demam, or 'Fever bird,' is so called 
from its loud, tremulous note, and the Malays say 
that the female bird calls in its fever-stricken voice to 
its mate to go and find food, because it has fever so 
badly that it cannot go itself. This bird is probably 
one of the large green barbets. The note is often 
heard, and doubtless the bird has been collected, but it 
is one thing shooting a bird and another identifying it 
as the producer of a certain note. 

"Another bird, the White-breasted Water-hen, a 
frequenter of the edges of reedy pools and the marshy 
banks of streams, is reputed to build a nest on the 
ground which has the property of rendering any one 
invisible who puts it on his head. The prevailing idea 
among the Malays is that the proper and legitimate 
use to put it to is to steal money and other species of 

The next few notes on Malay bird-lore were col- 
lected by the writer in Selangor : 

The Toucan or small Hornbill (Enggang) was 
metamorphosed from a man who, in conjunction with 
a companion, broke into the house of an old man living 
by himself in the jungle, and slew him for the sake of 
his wealth. When life was extinct they threw a sheet 
over the body, and proceeded to ransack the house, 
throwing the loot into a second sheet close to the 
corpse. Day was about to dawn, when a false alarm 
induced them to make a hurried departure, so that 
they picked up the sheet with their loot and made off 
with it, carrying it slung hastily upon a pole between 
them. As they proceeded on their way day commenced 



gradually to dawn, and the man behind noticing some- 
thing unexpected about the bundle, and divining the 
cause, called out to his companion "Orangl" (pr. o rang] 
" The man ! " His companion, misunderstanding his 
exclamation, thought he meant that they were pursued 
by "a man," and only went all the faster, until, on 
hearing his comrade repeat the cry a second and a 
third time, he turned round, and there saw the feet of 
the man he had murdered protruding from the sheet, 
a sight which startled him to such a degree that he 
turned into a bird upon the spot, and flew away into a 
tree, repeating as he went the fatal cry of "O'Rang! 
'Rang ! " which had caused the transformation. And 
to this day, whenever the Malay hears among the tree- 
tops the cry of " 'Rang ! 'rang ! " he knows that he is 
listening to the cry of the murderer. 1 

The Argus-pheasant 2 and the Crow 3 in the days of 
King Solomon were bosom friends, and could never 
do enough to show their mutual friendship. One day, 
however, the argus- pheasant, who was then dressed 
somewhat dowdily, suggested that his friend the crow 
should show his skill with the brush by decorating his 
(the argus -pheasant's) feathers. To this the crow 
agreed, on condition, however, that the arrangement 
should be mutual. The argus -pheasant agreed to 
this, and the crow forthwith set to work, and so sur- 
passed himself that the argus-pheasant became, as it 
is now, one of the most beautiful birds in the world. 
When the crow's task was done, however, the argus- 

1 An old Malay (in Selangor) once where the latter did not exist, this may 

told me that the hornbill was the king be important, 
of the birds until dispossessed by the 2 J rgus gi ganteus , Temm. 

eagle (JKajawah). If, as seems prob- 
able, the hornbill was taken as a sub- C* ***> Horsf - the 

stitute for the frigate-bird in places crow. 


pheasant refused to fulfil his own part of the bargain, 
excusing himself on the plea that the day of judgment 
was too near at hand. Hence a fierce quarrel ensued, 
at the end of which the argus-pheasant upset the ink- 
bottle over the crow, and thus rendered him coal- 
black. 1 Hence the crow and the argus-pheasant are 
enemies to this day. 

The bird called " Barau-barau " is said to have once 
been a bidan (midwife) whose employers (anak bidan] 
refused to pay her for her services, and kept con- 
stantly putting her off. Her patience, however, had 
its limits, and one day, after experiencing the usual 
evasion, she broke out into a torrent of intemperate 
language, in the midst of which she was changed into 
a bird, whose querulous note may be recognised as the 
voice of the aged woman as she cries out for the pay- 
ment of her just wages. 

About the big Kingfisher (Pekaka) an amusing 
parallel to the fable of the Fox and the Crow is related. 
It is said that this kingfisher once caught a fish, and 
flew to a low branch just overhanging the water to 
devour it. The fish, seeking for a means to save his 
life, decided to try the effect of a speech, and accord- 
ingly addressed his captor in the following verses, 
judiciously designed to appeal at once to her vanity 
and compassion : 

" O Kingfisher ! Kingfisher ! 
What a glistening, glittering beak ! 
Yet while you, Big Sister, are filling your maw, 
Little Brother will lose his life." 

At this critical juncture the Kingfisher opens her beak 

1 I believe that a similar story exists turpentine play the part of the ink in 
in Siam, the Siamese, however, making the Malay story. 


to laugh, and the fish slips back into his native ele- 
ment and escapes ! 

Fowling Ceremonies 

Ideas of sympathetic magic run very strongly 
through all ceremonies connected with the taking of 
wild birds, such for instance as jungle-fowl or pigeon. 

The commonest method of snaring jungle-fowl is 
to take a line (called rackik), with a great number of 
fine nooses attached to it, and set it so as to form a 
complete circle, enclosing an open space in the forest. 
You must bring a decoy-bird with you, and the in- 
structions which I collected say that you should on 
arriving enter the circle, holding the bird like a fight- 
ing cock, and repeat these lines : 

" Ho, Si Lanang, Si Tempawi, 
Come and let us play at cock-fighting 
On the border-line between the primary and secondary 


Your cock, Grandsire, is spurred with steel, 
Mine is but spurred with bamboo" 

Here deposit the bird upon the ground. The chal- 
lenge of the decoy-bird will then attract the jungle- 
fowl from all directions, and as they try to enter the 
circle (in order to reach the decoy), they will entangle 
themselves in the nooses. 

As often as you succeed, however, in catching one, 
you must be careful to cast the "mischief" out of it, 
using the same form of words as is used to drive the 
"mischief" out of the carcase of the deer. 

The method of catching wild pigeon is much more 
elaborate, and brings the animistic ideas of the Malays 
into strong relief, the "souls " of the wild pigeon being 
repeatedly referred to. 


First you build a small sugar-loaf (conical) hut (called 
in a carefully selected spot in the jungle. 
This hut may be from four to five feet high, is strongly 
built of stakes converging to a point at the top, and 
is thickly thatched with leaves and branches. The 
reason for making it strong is that there is always an 
ofT-chance that you may receive a visit from a tiger. 
At the back of the hut you must leave a small square 
opening (it can hardly be dignified with the name of a 
door), about two feet high and with a flap to it, through 
which you can creep into the hut on your hands and 
knees. [I may remark, parenthetically, that you will 
find the hut very damp, very dark, and very full of 
mosquitoes, and that if you are wise you will take 
with you a small stock of cigarettes.] In front of the 
hut, that is to say, on the side away from the door, if 
you want to proceed in the orthodox way, you will 
have to clear a small rectangular space, and put up 
round it on three sides (right, left, and front opposite 
the hut) a low railing consisting of a single bar about 
1 8 inches from the ground. This is to rail off what is 
called " King Solomon's Palace-yard," and will also be 
useful from a practical point of view, as it will serve 
as a perch for your " decoy." * 

The instructions proceed as follows : 
Before entering the hut the wizard must go 
through what is called the "Neutralising Rice-paste" 

1 Besides the hut, the necessary ap- (3) A rod with decoy-bird attached to 

paratus consists of: (l) Three rods it (by means of a string and noose at 

(called ampeian or pinggiran) laid across the end of the rod). (4) A rod with 

the top of short forked sticks at a height fine hair-like noose at the end, for 

of one or two feet from the ground. snaring the wild pigeon, and dragging 

The whole space enclosed by these is them into the hut. There is a door at 

called King Solomon's palace - yard back of hut as well as a small door or 

(halaman). (2) The biiluh dtkut, or opening in front of hut, called pintu 

bamboo pigeon-call, from 6 to 8 ft. in bangri (mangsi or mansi). 
length, called "Prince Distraction." 


(tepong tawar] ceremony, first in the centre of the 
enclosed space, and then in each corner successively, 
beating each of the forked sticks (uprights) at the 
corners with a bunch of leaves. He must then take 
the decoy -tube, and after reciting the appropriate 
charm, sound a long-drawn note in each corner succes- 
sively, and then insert the mouth-end of it into the hut 
through a hole in the thatch, supporting the heavy 
outer end upon a forked upright stick. Then entering 
the hut, he slips the noose at the end of the decoy- 
bird's rod on to the decoy -bird's feet, and pushing 
the bird out through the front door of the hut, makes 
it flutter on to one of the horizontal rods, where 
it will sit, if well trained, and call its companions. 
After a time the decoy -bird's challenge is met by 
first one and then many counter challenges, then the 
wild pigeon approach, there is a great fluttering of 
wings, and presently one of the first arrivals flies down 
and commences to walk round and round the hut. 
Then the wizard awaits his opportunity, and as the 
pigeon passes in front of the door he pushes out 
one of the rods with a noose at the end, slips 
the noose over the bird's neck or feet, and drags it 
into the hut. 

The hut must be used, if possible, before the leaves 
with which it is thatched have faded, as the wild 
pigeon are less likely to be suspicious of the hut when 
its thatch is green. 

In the way just described any number of pigeon 
can be taken, a bag of twenty or thirty being 
a fair average for a day's work under favourable 

The " call " will occasionally, for some unexplained 
reason, attract to the spot wild animals such as deer 


(especially mouse-deer) and tigers. Is it not possible 
that the story of the lute of Orpheus may have had its 
origin in some old hunting custom of the kind ? 

The following are specimens of the charms used 
by the wizard : 

When you are about to start (to decoy pigeons) 

" It is not I who am setting out, 
It is Toh Bujang Sibor l who is setting out." 

Then sound the decoy-tube (buluh dekut) thrice 
loudly, and say 

" I pray that they (the pigeon) may come in procession, come in 

To enter into this bundle 2 of ours." 

Now set out, and when you reach the conical hut 
(bumbun) say 

" My hut's name is the Magic Prince, 
My decoy's name is Prince Distraction, 
Distraught be ye, O Kapor 3 (pigeon), 
Distraught be ye, O Puding 3 (pigeon), 
Distraught be ye, O Sarap 3 (pigeon), 
Distraught (with desire) to enter our bundle." 

Or else when you first reach the hut, "take the 
(leaves of) the branch of a tree which is as high as 
your head, the leaves of the branch of a tree which is 
as high as your waist, the leaves of the branch of a tree 
which is as high as your knee, and the leaves of a tree 
which is only as high as your ankle-joint. Make them 

1 Bujang Sibor literally means the the names of three varieties of pigeon, 
"Bachelor (i.e. solitary) Scooper." generally styled "princesses" in the 
The name has no doubt been chosen charms used by pigeon-catchers. Their 
because it is thought to be lucky, names are also given as Bujang Kapor, 
possibly because it suggests " scooping (the Solitary Kapor), Lela Puding (?), 
in " (birds). and Dayang Sarap (the Handmaiden 

2 Vide App. xxxii. Sarap). 

3 Kapor, Puding, and Sarap, are 


all into a bunch, and with them "flick" the outside of 
the hut, saying these lines 

" Dok Ding [stands for the] ' Do'ding ' Pigeon, 
Which makes three with the Madukara Pigeon, 
The twig breaks, and the twig is pressed down, 
And our immemorial customs are restored." 

When scattering the rice, say 

" Sift, sift the broken rice-ends, 
Sift them over the rush-work rice-bag, 
As one disappears another is invited, 
Invited and brought down. 

If you descend not, the Bear-cat (Binturong) shall devour you, 
If you come not, wild beasts shall devour you, 
And if you perch on a twig, you shall fall headlong, 
If you perch on a bough, you shall be killed by a woodcutter, 
If you perch on a leaf, you shall be bitten by the leaf-snake, 
If you descend to the ground, you shall be bitten by a 

venomous serpent, 
If you fly upwards, you shall be swooped upon by kites and 


(That is) if you descend not. 
Cluck, cluck ! souls of Queen Kapor, of Princess Puding, and 

Handmaid Sarap. 

Come down and assemble in King Solomon's audience-hall, 
And put on King Solomon's breast-ornaments and armlets." 

When sprinkling the rice-paste (tepong tawar) on 
the uprights at each corner of the railed-off enclosure, 

" Neutralising rice-paste, genuine rice-paste, 
Add plumpness to plumpness, 

Let pigeon come down to the weight of thousands of pounds, 
And alight upon the Ivory Hall, 
Which is carpeted with silver, and whose railings are of 

Unto the dishes of Her Highness Princess Lebar Nyiru 


Come in procession, come (in succession), 
The ' assembly-flower ' begins to unfold its petals, 
Come down in procession, come down as stragglers, 
King Solomon's self has come to call you. 


Sift, sift (the rice) over the rice-bag, 

King Solomon's self bids you haste. 

Sift, sift the rice-ends, 

Sift them over the rush-work bag. 

As one disappears another is invited, 

Is invited and escorted down. 

Sift, sift the rice-ends, 

Sift them over the salt-bag, 

As one disappears another is invited, 

And escorted inside (the hut)." 

When you are sounding the call (melaung), stand 
in the middle of the enclosure and say : 

" Cluck, cluck ! soul of Princess Puding, of Queen Kapor, and 

Queen Sarap, 
Enter ye into our Bundle, 
And perch upon the Ivory Railing. 
Come in procession, come in succession, 
The assembly-flower unfolds its petals. 
Come down in procession, come down in succession, 
King Solomon's self is come to call you. 
If you do not come down, the Bear-cat shall eat you, 
If you do not appear, wild beasts shall devour you, 
If you perch upon a twig, you shall fall headlong 
(All over) the seven valleys and seven knolls of rising ground. 
If ye go to the hills, ye shall get no food ; 
If ye go to the forest-pools, ye shall get no drink." 

Or else the following : 

" Cut the mengkudu J branch, 
Cut it (through) and thrust it downwards. 
Let those which are near be the first to arrive, 
And those which are far off be sent for, 
Let those which have eggs, leave their eggs, 
And those which have young, desert their young, 
Let those which are blind, come led by others, 
And those which have broken limbs, come on crutches. 
Come and assemble in King Solomon's audience-hall. 
Cluck, cluck ! souls of Queen Kapor, Princess Puding, Hand- 
maid Sarap, 

1 The mengkudu is a Malay forest tree (Morinda tinctoria}. 


Come down and assemble in King Solomon's audience-hall, 
And put on King Solomon's necklace (breast-ornaments) and 
armlets." 1 

When about to enter the hut say 

" [Hearken], O Hearts of Wild Doves, 
Cut we the Rod of Invitation, 
This hut is named the Magic Prince, 
This tube is named Prince Distraction, 
Distraught (be ye) by day, distraught by night, 
Distraught (with longing) to assemble in King Solomon's Hall, 
Cluck, cluck ! souls of Queen Kapor," etc. (as before). 2 

When you have just entered, and before you seat 
yourself, say 

" Sift, sift the rice-ends, 
Sift them over a rush-work rice-bag," etc. (as before). 

Put your lips to the decoy-tube, and sound the call, 

" Cut the mengkudu stem ; 
Cut it (through) and thrust it downwards," etc. (as before). 

(or else some longer version, such as one of those 
given in the Appendix). When the wild pigeon have 
arrived and have entered the enclosure or " Palace- 
yard," wait till they are in a good position, and then 
push out one of the rods with the fine noose at the 
end, slip the noose over the bird's neck, and drag it 
into the house, saying as you do so 

1 An alternative version runs : 2 Another version has : 

cffi'rfSSwifeu This t . sh n ?. t f a creeper is " prince invita - 

Over the seven valleys, seven knolls of rising Th;s hut ' k ca , led tfae Magic p rmce 

Re-efhothe voice of my decoy. This deco y is called PHnCe Distracti n " 

Come down, Queen Kapor, Queen Puding, _. _ . , T .. , r ., ",,..*r*\ 4e tVi 

Handmaid Sampah, Si Raja Nyila (from sila, menytla) is the 

With one hundred and ninety others. name given to the long slender rods 

Come down to this spot I stand on. ith fine ha j r _iik e nooses at the end 

Come down from the north, . j j 

Come down from the south, with which the pigeons are snared and 

Come down from the east, dragged into the hut (vide App. xli. ) 

Come down from the west. 


" Wak-wak [stands for] a heron on the kitchen shelf, 
Covered over with the top of a cocoa-nut shell, 
Do you move aside, Sir Bachelor, Master of the Ceremonies, 
I wish to ensnare the necks of the race of wild doves." 

Now that you understand the process of decoying 
pigeon with a pigeon-call, I must explain something of 
the curious nomenclature used by the wizard ; for dur- 
ing the ceremony you must never call a spade a spade. 
In the first place, the hut must not on any account be 
mentioned as such : it is to be called the Magic Prince 
why so called, it is hard to say, but most likely the 
name is used in allusion to the wizard who is concealed 
inside it. The name given to the calling-tube itself is 
more appropriate, as it is called " Prince Distraction " 
(Raja Gila), this name of course being an allusion 
to the extraordinary fascination which it evidently 
exercises on the pigeon. Then the decoy (or rather, 
perhaps, the rod to which it is linked) is called 
Putri Pemonggo', or the Squatting Princess. Next 
to these come three Princesses which prove to 
be merely the representatives of three important 
species of wild pigeon. Their names, though 
variously given, are perhaps most commonly known 
as Princess " Kapor," Princess "Sarap," and Princess 
" Puding." 

Finally, even the rod used for ensnaring the pigeon 
has its own special name, Si Raja Nyila (Prince In- 

" King Solomon's necklaces " and armlets are of 
course the nooses with which they are to be snared, 
and which will catch them either by the neck or by 
the leg. 

The Princesses are invited to enter a gorgeous 
palace : 


" Come down, pigeons, in your myriads, 
And perch upon the ' Ivory Hall,' 
(That is) carpeted with silver, and railed with amalgam, 
(Come down) to the dishes of Her Highness Princess Lebar 
Nyiru (Broad-sieve)." 1 

The "dishes of Her Highness Princess Broad- 
sieve " cleverly suggest an abundance of provender 
such as is likely to appeal to a hungry bird ! 

In another version the three Princesses are in- 
vited to enter the "Palace Tower" called " Fatimah 
Passes" (Mahaligei Fatimah Lalu). 

Moreover those who issue the invitation are no 
respecters of persons : 

" Let those which are near, arrive the first, 
Let those which are far off be sent for, 
Let those which have eggs, leave their eggs, 
Those which have young, leave their young, 
Those which are blind, be led by others, 
Those which have broken limbs, come on crutches ; 
Come and assemble in King Solomon's Audience-Chamber." 5 

And a similar passage in another charm says 

" Let those which are near, arrive the first, 
Let those which are far off be sent for, 
Cluck ! cluck ! souls of the children of forest doves, 
Come ye down and assemble together 
In the fold of God and King Solomon." 

If blandishments fail, however, there is to be no 
doubt about the punishments in store for their wilful 
Highnesses : thus, a little later, we find the alternative, 
a thoroughgoing imprecation calculated to "convince" 
the most headstrong of birds : 

" I call you, I fetch you down, 
If you come not down you shall be eaten by the Bear-cat, 

Vide App. xxxvii. 2 Vide App. xlv. 


You shall be choked to death with your own feathers, 
You shall be choked to death with a bone in your throat. 
If you perch on a creeper you shall be entangled by it, 
If you settle on a leaf you shall be bitten by the ' leaf snake,' 
Come you down quickly to God's fold and King Solomon's." 

And an imprecation of similar import says 

" [If you do not come down, the Bear-cat shall eat you], 
If you perch on a bough, you shall slip off it, 
If you perch on a creeper, you shall slide off it, 
If you perch upon a leafless stump, the stump shall fall ; 
If you settle on the ground, the ground-snake shall bite you, 
If you soar up to heaven, the eagle shall swoop upon you." 

(b) Earth 


The first operation in building is the selection of 
the site. This is determined by an elaborate code of 
rules which make the choice depend firstly, upon 
the nature of the soil with respect to colour, taste, and 
smell ; secondly, upon the formation of its surface ; and, 
thirdly, upon its aspect : 

" The best soil, whether for a house, village, orchard, 
or town, is a greenish yellow, fragrant-scented, tart- 
tasting loam : such a soil will ensure abundance of gold 
and silver unto the third generation. 1 

"The best site, whether for a house, village, 
orchard, or town, is level. 2 

"The best aspect (of the surface) is that of land 
which is low upon the north side and high upon the 
south side : such a site will bring absolute peace- 
fulness." 8 

1 Vide App. xlvii. faces southwards there will be no luck 

2 Ibid. in the house and everything will go 

3 Ibid. Note that the house-door wrong. -J.R.A. S., S.., No. 30, p. 
must not face towards the south ; if it 306. Vide App. Iv. 


When you have found a site complying with more 
or less favourable conditions, in accordance with the 
code, you must next clear the ground of forest or 
undergrowth, lay down four sticks to form a rect- 
angle in the centre thereof, and call upon the name 
of the lords of that spot (i.e. the presiding local deities 
or spirits). Now dig up the soil (enclosed by the four 
sticks), and taking a clod in your hand, call upon the 
lords of that spot as follows : 

" Ho, children of Mentri l Guru, 
Who dwell in the Four Corners of the World, 
I crave this plot as a boon." 

(Here mention the purpose to which you wish to put it.) 

" If it is good, show me a good omen, 
If it is bad, show me a bad omen." z 

Wrap the clod up in white cloth, and after fumi- 
gating it with incense, place it at night beneath your 
pillow, and when you retire to rest repeat the last two 
lines of the above charm as before and go to sleep. 
If your dream is good proceed with, if bad desist 
from, your operations. Supposing your dream to be 
"good," you must (approximately) clear the site of 
the main building and peg out the four corners with 
dead sticks ; then take a dead branch and heap it 
up lightly with earth (in the centre of the site ?) ; set 
fire to it, and when the whole heap has been reduced 
to ashes, sweep it all up together and cover it over 
while you repeat the charm (which differs but little 
from that given above). Next morning uncover it 
early in the morning and God will show you the good 
and the bad. 

1 Perhaps a corruption of "Bgntara," charms a few pages farther on), 
or Batara, Guru (i.e. Shiva), which is " MSntri " usually means "minister." 
what we should here expect (vide the 2 Vide App. xlvii. 


The site being finally selected, you must proceed 
to choose a day for erecting the central house-post, by 
consulting first the schedule of lucky and unlucky 
months, and next the schedule of lucky and unlucky 
days of the week. 1 

[The best time of day for the operation to take place 
is said to be always seven o'clock in the morning. 
Hence there seems to be no need to consult a schedule 
to discover it, though some magicians may do so.] 

The propitious moment having been at last ascer- 
tained, the erection of the centre-post will be proceeded 
with. First, the hole for its reception must be dug 
(the operation being accompanied by the recital of a 
charm) and the post erected, the greatest precautions 
being taken to prevent the shadow of any of the 
workers from falling either upon the post itself or upon 
the hole dug to receive it, sickness and trouble being 
otherwise sure to follow. 2 

[The account in the Appendix, of which the above 
is a rdsumd, omits to describe the sacrifice which has 
to be made before the erection of the centre-post, which 
has therefore been drawn from the instructions of other 

" When the hole has been dug and before the centre- 
post is actually erected, some sort of sacrifice or offer- 
ing has to be made. First you take a little brazilwood 
(kayu sepang], a little ebony-wood (kayu arang), a little 
assafcetida (inggu), and a little scrap-iron (tahi besi\ 
and deposit them in the hole which you have dug. 
Then take a fowl, 3 a goat, or a buffalo [according to 

* As to lucky and unlucky times, pected on the part of the earth-spirit, 

v ide Chap. VI. pp. 54S-55 infra. even an egg (as the "symbol" of a 

2 Cp. pp. 244-245, 248, infra. fowl) may be sufficient as a sacrifice. 

3 In a case where no trouble is ex- 


the ascertained or reputed malignity of the locally pre- 
siding earth-demon (puaka)\, and cut its throat accord- 
ing to Muhammadan custom, spilling its blood into the 
hole. Then cut off its head and feet, and deposit them 
within the hole to serve as a foundation for the centre- 
post to rest upon (buat lapik tiang sri}. Put a ring 
on your little finger out of compliment to the earth- 
spirit (akan membujok jembalang ztu), repeat the 
charm * and erect the post." 2 

Another form of the above ceremony was described 
to me by a magician as follows : 

" Deposit in the hole a little scrap-iron and tin-ore, 
a candle nut (buah kras or buah gorek], a broken 
hatchet head (b'liong patak), and a cent (in copper). 
Wait till everybody else has returned home, and, 
standing close to the hole, pick up three clods (kefial} 
of earth, hold them (genggam) over the incense, turn 
' right-about-face ' and repeat the charm. 8 Then take 
the three clods home (without once turning round to 
look behind you till you reach home), place them under 
your sleeping pillow and wait till nightfall, when you 
may have either a good or a bad dream. If the first 
night's dream be bad, throw away one of the clods 
and dream again. If the second night's dream be 

1 Vide App. 1. substituted (the goat, fowl, and egg 

2 An alternative method was thus representing further successive stages 
described to me by a magician : Take in the depreciation of the rite). Malays 
a white cup, fill it with water, fumigate on the Selangor coast more than once 
it with incense, and deposit it in the told me they had heard that the Govern- 
hole dug to receive the centre-post. ment was in the habit of burying a 
Early next morning take note of it ; if human head under the foundations of 
it is still full of water, it is a good sign ; any unusually large structure (e.g. a 
if the water has wasted (sustit), a bad bridge), and two cases where a local 
one. If live insects are found in it, scare resulted from the prevalence of 
it is a good sign, if dead ones, bad. this idea were recorded in the local 
There can, however, be little doubt press (the Malay Mail) in 1897. 
that the original victim of this sacrifice For similar traditions of human sacrifice, 
was a human victim (generally perhaps vide p. 2 1 1 infra. 

a slave), for whom the buffalo was 3 Vide App. Hi. 


bad, repeat the process, and whenever you get a good 
dream deposit the clod or clods under the butt-end 
of the centre-post to serve as a foundation." 

A magician gave me this specimen of a charm 
used at this ceremony (of erecting the centre-post) : 

" Ho, Raja Guru, Maharaja Guru, 
You are the sons of Batara Guru. 
I know the origin from which you spring, 
From the Flashing of Lightning's spurs ; 
I know the origin from which you spring, 
From the Brightening of Daybreak. 
Ho, Spectre of the Earth, Brains of the Earth, Demon of the 


Retire ye hence to the depths of the Ocean, 
To the peace of the primeval forest. 
Betwixt you and me 
Division was made by Adam." 

Another rule of importance in house-building is 
that which regulates the length of the threshold, as 
to which the instructions are as follows : 

" Measure off (on a piece of string) the stretch 
(fathom) of the arms of her who is to be mistress of 
the proposed house. Fold this string in three and 
cut off one third. Take the remainder, fold it in eight 
and cut off seven-eighths. Take the remaining eighth, 
see how many times it is contained in the length of 
the threshold, and check off the number (of these 
measurements) against the "category" (bilangan) of 
the "eight beasts" 1 (benatang yang cTlapan}. This 
category runs as follows : (i) The dragon (naga) ; .(2) 
the dairy-cow (sapi) ; (3) the lion (singa] ; (4) the dog 
fan/ing) ; (5) the draught -cow (lembu) ; (6) the ass 
(kaldei) ; (7) the elephant (gajah\ and (8) the crow 
\ all of which have certain ominous significa- 

1 For other "categories" vide p. 559, infra. 


tions. If the last measurement coincides with one of 
the unlucky beasts in the category, such as the crow 
(which signifies the death of the master of the house), 
the threshold is cut shorter to make it fit in with one 
that is more auspicious." 1 

The names of the "eight beasts," coupled with the 
events which they are supposed to foreshadow, are 
often commemorated in rhyming stanzas. 

Here is a specimen : . 

I. The Dragon (naga). 

" A dragon of bulk, a monster dragon, 
Is this dragon that turns round month by month. 2 
Wherever you go you will be safe from stumbling-blocks, 
And all who meet you will be your friends." 

II. The Dairy-Cow (sapi). 

" There is the smoke of a fire in the forest, 
Where Inche 'Ali is burning lime ; 
They were milking the young dairy-cow, 
And in the midst of the milking it sprawled and fell down 

III. The Lion (singa). 

" A lion of courage, a lion of valour, 
Is the lion gambolling at the end of the Point. 
The luck of this house will be lasting, 
Bringing you prosperity from year to year." 

IV. The Dog (anjing). 

" The wild dog, the jackal, 
Barks at the deer from night to night ; 
Whatever you do will be a stumbling-block ; 
In this house men will stab one another." 

1 Another form of measurement was 2 This probably refers to the mystic 

from the threshold (of the front door) Dragon which does duty (in Malay 

to the end of the house ; but the charm-books) as an " aspect compass. " 

method of augury in this case is not Vide Chap. VI. p. 561, infra, and 

yet quite clear. App. cclvii. 


V. The Draught- Cow (lmbu). 

" The big cow from the middle of the clearing 
Has gone to the Deep Forest to calve there. 
Great good luck will be your portion, 
Never will you cease to be prosperous." 

VI. The Ass (kaldei). 

" The ass within the Fort 
Carries grass from morn to eve ; 
Whatever you pray for will not be granted, 
Though big your capital, the half will be lost." 

VII. The Elephant (gajah). 

"The big riding elephant of the Sultan 
Has its tusks covered with amalgam. 
Good luck is your portion, 
No harm or blemish will you suffer." 

VIII. The Crow (gagak). 

" A black crow soaring by night 
Has perched on the house of the great Magic Prince ; 
Great indeed is the calamity which has happened : 
Within the house its master lies dead." 

In close connection with the ceremonies for the 
selection of individual house sites are the forms by 
which the princes of Malay tradition selected sites 
for the towns which they founded. The following 
extract will perhaps convey some idea of their 
character : 

" One day Raja Marong Maha Podisat went into 
his outer audience hall, where all his ministers, 
warriors, and officers were in attendance, and com- 
manded the four Mantris to equip an expedition 
with all the necessary officers and armed men, and 
with horses and elephants, arms and accoutrements. 
The four Mantris did as they were ordered, and when 


all was ready they informed the Raja. The latter 
waited for a lucky day and an auspicious moment, 
and then desired his second son to set out. The 
Prince took leave after saluting his father and mother, 
and all the ministers, officers, and warriors who fol- 
lowed him performed obeisance before the Raja. 
They then set out in search of a place of settlement, 
directing their course between south and east, intend- 
ing to select a place with good soil, and there to build 
a town with fort, moat, palace, and balei. 1 They 
amused themselves in every forest, wood, and thicket 
through which they passed, crossing numbers of hills 
and mountains, and stopping here and there to hunt 
wild beasts, or to fish if they happened to fall in with 
a pool or lake. 

"After they had pursued their quest for some 
time they came to the tributary of a large river 
which flowed down to the sea. Farther on they 
came to a large sheet of water, in the midst of which 
were four islands. The Prince was much pleased 
with the appearance of the islands, and straightway 
took a silver arrow and fitted it to his bow named 
Indra Sakti, and said : ' O arrow of the bow Indra 
Sakti, fall thou on good soil in this group of islands ; 
wherever thou mayest chance to fall, there will I 
make a palace in which to live.' He then drew his 
bow and discharged the arrow, which flew upwards 
with the rapidity of lightning, and with a humming 
sound like that made by a beetle as it flies round a 
flower, and went out of sight. Presently it came in 
sight again, and fell upon one of the islands, which 
on that account was called Pulau Indra Sakti. On 
that spot was erected a town with fort, palace, and 

1 Audience hall. 


balei, and all the people who were living scattered 
about in the vicinity were collected together and set 
to work on the various buildings." 

Even in the making of roads through the 
forest it would appear that sacrificial ceremonies 
are not invariably neglected. On one occasion I 
came upon a party of Malays in the Labu jungle 
who were engaged in making a bridle-track for the 
Selangor Government. A small bamboo censer, on 
which incense had been burning, had been erected 
in the middle of the trace ; and I was informed that 
the necessary rites (for exorcising the demons from 
the trace) had just been successfully concluded. 


All wild animals, more especially the larger and 
more dangerous species, are credited in Malay folk- 
lore with human or (occasionally) superhuman powers. 

In the pages which now follow I shall deal with the 
folklore which refers to the more important animals, 
first pointing out their anthropomorphic traits, then 
detailing some of the more important traditions 
about them, and finally, where possible, describing the 
methods of hunting them. 

The Elephant 

Of the Elephant we read : 

"The superstitious dread entertained by Malays 
for the larger animals is the result of ideas regarding 

1 J.R.A.S.,S.B. y No. 9, pp. 85, 86. sattva) indicates Indo-Chinese Bud- 

This is an extract from the Marong dhist influence. It does not seem to 

Mahawangsa, the legendary history of occur elsewhere in Malay literature, 

Kedah, a State bordering on Lower though Buddhism flourished in Sumatra 

Siam. The name Podisat (i.e. Bodhi- in the seventh century A.D. 


them which have been inherited from the primitive 
tribes of Eastern Asia. Muhammadanism has not 
been able to stamp out the deep-rooted feelings which 
prompted the savage to invest the wild beasts which 
he dreaded with the character of malignant deities. 
The tiger, elephant, and rhinoceros l were not mere 
brutes to be attacked and destroyed. The immense 
advantages which their strength and bulk gave them 
over the feebly-armed savage of the most primitive 
tribes naturally suggested the possession of super- 
natural powers ; and propitiation, not force, was the 
system by which it was hoped to repel them. The 
Malay addresses the tiger as Datoh (grandfather), and 
believes that many tigers are inhabited by human 
souls. Though he reduces the elephant to subjection, 
and uses him as a beast of burden, it is universally 
believed that the observance of particular ceremonies, 
and the repetition of prescribed formulas, are necessary 
before wild elephants can be entrapped and tamed. 
Some of these spells and charms (mantra] are supposed 
to have extraordinary potency, and I have in my 
possession a curious collection of them, regarding 
which, it was told me seriously by a Malay, that in 
consequence of their being read aloud in his house 
three times all the hens stopped laying ! The spells 
in this collection are nearly all in the Siamese language, 
and there is reason to believe that the modern Malays 
owe most of their ideas on the subject of taming and 
driving elephants to the Siamese. Those, however, 
who had no idea of making use of the elephant, but 

1 Of the rhinoceros not many super- "fiery" rhinoceros (badak apt) which 

stitions are yet known. The rhinoceros is excessively dangerous if attacked, 

horn, however (called chula), is be- This latter is probably a mere fable, 

lieved to be a powerful aphrodisiac, and vide Cliff. , In Court and Kampong, 

there is supposed to be a species of p. 33. 


who feared him as an enemy, were doubtless the first 
to devise the idea of influencing him by invocations. 
This idea is inherited, both by Malays and Siamese, 
from common ancestry." 1 

To the above evidence (which was collected by 
Sir W. E. Maxwell no doubt mainly in Perak) I would 
add that at Labu, in Selangor, I heard on more than 
one occasion a story in which the elephant-folk were 
described as possessing, on the borders of Siam, a city 
of their own, where they live in houses like human 
beings, and wear their natural human shape. This 
story, which was first told me by Ungku Said Kechil 
of Jelebu, was taken down by me at the time, and ran 
as follows : 

" A Malay named Laboh went out one day to his 
rice-field and found that elephants had been destroying 
his rice. 

"He therefore planted caltrops of a cubit and a 
half in length in the tracks of the offenders. That 
night an elephant was wounded in the foot by one of 
the caltrops, and went off bellowing with pain. 

" Day broke and Laboh set off on the track of the 
wounded elephant, but lost his way, and after three 
days and nights journeying, found himself on the 
borders of a new and strange country. Presently he 
encountered an old man, to whom he remarked ' Hullo, 
grandfather, your country is extraordinarily quiet ! ' 
The old man replied, ' Yes, for all noise is forbidden, 
because the king's daughter is ill.' 'What is the 
matter with her ? ' asked Si Laboh. The old man 
replied that she had trodden upon a caltrop. Si Laboh 
then asked, ' May I see if I can do anything to help 

1 J.R.A.S^ S.B., No. 7, pp. 23, 24. 


" The old man then went and reported the matter 
to the king, who ordered Si Laboh to be brought into 
his presence. 

" [Now the country which Si Laboh had reached 
was a fine open country on the borders of Siam. It 
is called ' Pak Henang,' and its only inhabitants are 
the elephant-people who live there in human guise. 
And whoever trespasses over the boundaries of that 
country turns into an elephant.] 

"Then Si Laboh saw that the king's daughter, 
whose name was Princess Rimbut, was suffering from 
one of the caltrops which he himself had planted. 
He therefore extracted it from her foot, so that she 
recovered, and the king, in order to reward Si Laboh, 
gave him the Princess in marriage. 

" Now when they had been married a long time, 
and had got two children, Si Laboh endeavoured to 
persuade his wife to accompany him on a visit to his 
own country. To this the Princess replied ' Yes ; but 
if I go you must promise never to add to the dish any 
young tree-shoots at meal-time.' l 

" On this they started, and at the end of the first 
day's journey they halted and sat down to eat. But 
Si Laboh had forgotten the injunctions of his wife, and 
put young tree-shoots into the dish with his rice. Then 
his wife protested and said, ' Did I not tell you not to 
put young tree-shoots into your food ? ' But Si Laboh 
was obstinate, and merely replied, ' What do I care ? ' 
so that his wife was turned back into an elephant and ran 
off into the jungle. Then Si Laboh wept and followed 
her, but she refused to return as she had now become 
an elephant. Yet he followed her for a whole day, but 

1 Young shoots of bamboo are eaten by Malays with curry. 


she would not return to him, and he then returned 
homewards with his children. 

" This is all that is known about the origin of 
elephants who are human beings." 

A Malay charm which was given me (at Labu) to 
serve as a protection against elephants (J>$ndinding 
gajak) gives the actual name of the Elephant King 

" O Grandfather Moyang Kaban, 
Destroy not your own grandchildren." 

Ghost elephants (gajah kramaf) are not uncommon. 
They are popularly believed to be harmless, but in- 
vulnerable, and are generally supposed to exhibit some 
outward and visible sign of their sanctity, such as a 
stunted tusk or a shrunken foot. They are the tutelary 
genii of certain localities, and when they are killed 
the good fortune of the neighbourhood is supposed to 
depart too. Certain it is, that when one of these 
ghost elephants was shot at Klang a year or two ago, 
it did not succumb until some fifty or sixty rifle-bullets 
had been poured into it, and its death was followed by 
a fall in the local value of coffee and coffee land, from 
which the district took long to recover. 1 

A ghost elephant is very often thought to be the 
guardian spirit of some particular shrine an idea that 
is common throughout the Peninsula. 

Other general ideas about the elephant are as 
follows : 

"Elephants are said to be very frightened if they 
see a tree stump that has been felled at a great height 

1 The skull of this elephant, riddled one stunted tusk. The present State 

with bullets, was sent to the Govern- surgeon (Dr. A. E. O. Travers) can 

ment Museum at Kuala Lumpor, in speak to the facts. 
Selangor. It had, so far as I remember, 


from the ground, as some trees which have high spread- 
ing buttresses are cut, because they think that giants 
must have felled it, and as ordinary-sized men are more 
than a match for them they are in great dread of being 
caught by creatures many times more powerful than 
their masters. Some of the larger insects of the grass- 
hopper kind are supposed to be objects of terror to 
elephants, while the particularly harmless little pan- 
golin (Manis pentadactyla] is thought to be able to kill 
one of these huge beasts by biting its foot. The 
pangolin, by the bye, is quite toothless. Another 
method in which the pangolin attacks and kills 
elephants is by coiling itself tightly around the end of 
the elephant's trunk, and so suffocating it. This idea 
is also believed in by the Singhalese, according to Mr. 
W. T. Hornaday's Two Years in the Jungle." 1 

The foregoing passage refers to Perak, but similar 
ideas are common in Selangor, and they occur no doubt, 
with local variations, in every one of the Malay States. 
Selangor Malays tell of the scaring of elephants by the 
process of drawing the slender stem of the bamboo 
down to the ground and cutting off the top of it, when 
it springs back to its place. 

The story of the " pangolin " is also told in 
Selangor with additional details. Thus it is said that 
the "Jawi-jawi" tree (a kind of banyan) is always 
avoided by elephants because it was once licked by the 
armadillo. The latter, after licking it, went his way, 
and "the elephant coming up was greatly taken aback 
by the offensive odour, and swore that he would never 
go near the tree again. He kept his oath, and his 
example has been followed by his descendants, so that 

1 SeL Journ. vol. iii. No. 6, p. 95 (quoted from Perak Museum Notes by 
Mr. L. Wray). 


to this day the ' Jawi-jawi ' is the one tree in the forest 
which the elephant is afraid to approach." 

The following directions for hunting the elephant 
were given me by Lbai Jamal, a famous elephant 
hunter of Lingging, near the Sungei Ujong border : 

" When you first meet with the spoor of elephant 
or rhinoceros, observe whether the foot-hole contains 
any dead wood, (then) take the twig of dead wood, to- 
gether with a ball of earth as big as a maize-cob taken 
from the same foot-hole (if there is only one of you, 
one ball will do, if there are three of you, three balls 
will be wanted, if seven, seven balls, but not more). 
Then roll up your ball of earth and the twig together 
in a tree-leaf, breathe upon it, and recite the charm (for 
blinding the elephant's eyes), the purport of which is 
that if the quarry sees, its eyesight shall be destroyed, 
and if it looks, its eyesight shall be dimmed, by the 
help of God, the prophet, and the medicine-man, who 
taught the charm. 

" Now slip your ball of earth into your waistband 
just over the navel, and destroy the scent of your body 
and your gun. To do this, take a bunch of certain 
leaves 2 (daun sa-cherek\ together with stem-leaves of 
the betel-vine (kerapak siri/i), leaves of the wild camphor 
(chapa), and leaves of the club-gourd (labu ayer puteti], 
break their midribs with your left hand, shut your eyes, 
and say ' As these tree leaves smell, so may my body 
(and gun) be scented.' 

" When the animal is dead, beat it with an end of 
black cloth, repeating the charm for driving away the 

1 SeL Journ. vol. i. No. 6, p. 83, by the medicine-man for his leaf-brush, 
where this note is given. Probably i.e. leaves of the piilut-puhit, stlaguri, 
"armadillo" is a mistake for "pan- gandarusa, and the red clracrena (Itn- 
golin." juang merah). 

2 These leaves are such as are used 


'mischief (badi] from the carcase, which charm runs 
as follows : 

" Badiyu, Mother of Mischief, Badi Panji, Blind Mother, 
I know the origin from which you sprang, 1 

Three drops of Adam's blood were the origin from which you sprang, 
Mischief of Earth, return to Earth, 
Mischief of Ant-heap, return to Ant-heap, 
Mischief of Elephant, return to Elephant, 2 
Mischief of Wood, return to Wood, 
Mischief of Water, return to Water, 
Mischief of Stone, return to Stone 
And injure not my person. 
By the virtue of my Teacher, 
You may not injure the children of the race of Man." 

The perquisites of the Pawang (magician) are to be 
" a little black cloth and a little white cloth," and the 
only special taboo mentioned by Lebai Jamal was " on 
no account to let the naked skin rub against the skin 
of the slain animal." 

Before leaving the subject of elephants, I may add 
that Raja Ja'far (of Beranang in Selangor) told me 
that Lebai Jamal, when charged by an elephant or 
rhinoceros, would draw upon the ground with his finger 
a line which the infuriated animal was never able to 
cross. This line, he said, was called the Baris Lak- 
samana, or the "Admiral's Line," and the knowledge 
of how to draw it was naturally looked upon as a great 

1 "The Malays believe that the person's ancestry implied common 
power to inform a spirit, a wild beast, tribal origin. For the explanation of 
or any natural object, such as iron rust, " Badi," vide Chap. IV. p. 94, supra, 
of the source from which it originates and Chap. VI. p. 427, infra, 
(usul asal ka-jadi-an-nyd), renders it 2 " Rhinoceros " should be sub- 
powerless." H. Clifford in No. 3 of stituted for "elephant" passim, if it 
the Publications of the R.A.S., S.B., was the object of the hunter's pursuit. 
Hikayat Raja Budiman, pt. ii. p. 8. This particular line should probably 
This belief is found among all tribes come at the end of the charm instead 
of Malays in the Peninsula. Possibly of the middle, 
the idea was that knowledge of another 


The Tiger 

"The Tiger is sometimes believed to be a man 
or demon in the form of a wild beast, and to the 
numerous aboriginal superstitions which attach to this 
dreaded animal Muhammadanism has added the notion 
which connects the Tiger with the Khalif Ali. One 
of Ali's titles throughout the Moslem world is ' the 
Victorious Lion of the Lord,' and in Asiatic countries, 
where the lion is unknown, the tiger generally takes 
the place of the ' king of beasts.' " l 

But the anthropomorphic ideas of the Malays 
about the Tiger go yet farther than this. Far away in 
the jungle (as I have several times been told in Selan- 
gor) the tiger-folk (no less than the elephants) have a 
town of their own, where they live in houses, and act 
in every respect like human beings. In the town re- 
ferred to their house-posts are made of the heart of 
the Tree-nettle (fras jelatang], and their roofs thatched 
with human hair one informant added that men's 
bones were their only rafters, and men's skins their 
house walls and there they live quietly enough until 
one of their periodical attacks of fierceness (nieng- 
ganas) comes on and causes them to break bounds 
and range the forest for their chosen prey. 

There are several of these tiger-villages or " en- 
closures" in the Peninsula, the chief of them being 
Gunong Ledang (the Mount Ophir of Malacca), just 
as Pasummah is the chief of such localities in 
Sumatra. 2 So too, from Perak, Sir W. E. Maxwell 
writes in 1881 : 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., NO. 7, p. 22. 

2 Marsden, Hist, of Sum. p. 292, ed. 1811. 

i 5 8 



"A mischievous tiger is said sometimes to have 
broken loose from its pen or fold (peckak kandang], 
This is in allusion to an extraordinary belief that, in 
parts of the Peninsula, there are regular enclosures 
where tigers possessed by human souls live in associa- 
tion. During the day they roam where they please, 
but return to the kandang at night." l 

Various fables ascribe to the tiger a human 
origin. One of these, taken down by me word 
for word from a Selangor Malay, is intended to 
account for the tiger's stripes. The gist of it ran as 
follows : 

" An old man picked up a boy in the jungle with a 
white skin, green eyes, and very long nails. Taking 
the boy home his rescuer named him Muhammad Yatim 
(i.e. ' Muhammad the fatherless '), and when he grew up 
sent him to school, where he behaved with great 
cruelty to his schoolfellows, and was therefore soundly 
beaten by his master ('Toh Saih Panjang Janggut, i.e. 
'Toh Saih Long-beard), who used a stick made of a 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., I.e. 

" They (the Sumatran Malays) seem to 
think, indeed, that tigers in general are 
actuated with the spirits of departed 
men, and no consideration will prevail 
on a countryman to catch or to wound 
one, but in self-defence, or immediately 
after the act of destroying a friend or 
relation. They speak of them with a 
degree of awe, and hesitate to call them 
by their common name (rimau or ma- 
chang), terming them respectfully satwa 
(the wild animals), or even nenek 
(ancestors), as really believing them 
such, or by way of soothing or coaxing 
them, as our ignorant country folk call 
the fairies ' the good people. ' " \Dato 1 
hutan, "elder of the jungle," is the 
common title of the tiger in Selangor. 
Various nicknames, however, are given, 
e.g. Si Pudong, " he of the hairy face " 

(Cliff., In Court and Kampong, p. 201), 
'PahRandau, " father shaggy-face, "etc. ] 
"When an European procures traps to 
be set ... the inhabitants of the neigh- 
bourhood have been known to go at 
night to the place and practise some 
forms in order to persuade the animal, 
when caught, or when he shall perceive 
the bait, that it was not laid by them 
or with their consent. They talk of a 
place in the country where the tigers 
have a court, and maintain a regular 
form of government, in towns, the houses 
of which are thatched with women's 
hair." Marsden, I.e. (The italics are 
mine.) It is curious that the Fairy 
Princess' hall on Gunong Ledang is 
similarly described in the Se'jarah 
Malayu (Malay Annals, p. 279) as 
being of bone and thatched with hair. 


kind of wood called los 1 to effect the chastisement. 
At the first cut the boy leapt as far as the doorway ; 
at the second he leapt to the ground, at the third he 
bounded into the grass, at the fourth he uttered a 
growl, and at the fifth his tail fell down behind him 
and he went upon all fours, whereat his master (impro- 
vising a name to curse him by), exclaimed, ' This is of 
a truth God's tiger ! (Harimau Alla/i). Go you,' he 
added, addressing the tiger, ' to the place where you 
will catch your prey the borderland between the 
primeval forest and the secondary forest-growth, and 
that between the secondary forest-growth and the plain 
catch there whomsoever you will, but see that you 
catch only the headless. Alter no jot of what I say, 
or you shall be consumed by the Iron of the Regalia, 
and crushed by the sanctity of the thirty divisions of 
the Koran.' ' Hence the tiger is to this day compelled 
to " ask for " his prey, and uses divination (bertenung], 
as all men know, for the purpose of discovering whether 
his petition has yet been granted. 

Hence, too, he carries on his hide to this very day 
the mark of the stripes with which he was beaten at 

The method of divination said to be practised by 
the tiger is as follows : The tiger lies down and gazes 
(bertenung) at leaves which he takes between his paws, 
and whenever he sees the outline of a leaf take the 

1 Also called Vaj. The tiger is an adequate protection against any tiger. 

still supposed to be mortally afraid of I do not know what species of tree it 

fas or Voj wood. In fact, I was more belongs to, but a gorse stick (which I 

than once told of a trapped tiger who had bought some years before in Ire- 

on being shown a piece of 'fas wood land) was taken to be a piece of fas 

" became quite silent," though it had wood, and was begged from me by a 

previously been savagely growling, local Malay headman, who cut it up 

and shrank into a corner of the trap. into inches for distribution among his 

A single inch of this wood is thought following. 


shape of one of his intended victims, without the head, 
he knows it to be the sign that that victim has been 
" granted " to him, in accordance with the very terms 
of his master's curse. 

I once asked (at Labu) how it was known that the 
tiger used divination, and was told this story of a man 
who had seen it: 

"A certain Malay had been working, together 
with his newly-married wife, in the rice-fields at Labu, 
and on his stepping aside at noon into the cool of the 
forest, he saw a tiger lying down among the under- 
wood apparently gazing at something between its paws. 
By creeping stealthily nearer he was able at length to 
discern the object at which the tiger was gazing, and it 
proved to be, to his intense horror, a leaf which pre- 
sented the lineaments of his wife, lacking only the head. 
Hurrying back to the rice-field he at once warned the 
neighbours of what he had seen, and implored them to 
set his wife in their midst and escort her homeward. 
To this they consented, but yet, in spite of every pre- 
caution, the tiger broke through the midst of them and 
killed the woman before it could be driven off. The 
bereaved husband thereupon requested them to leave 
him alone with the body and depart, and when they had 
done so, he took the body in his arms, and so lay down 
embracing it, with a dagger in either hand. Before 
sunset the tiger returned to its kill, and leapt upon the 
corpse, whereupon the husband stabbed it to the 
heart, so that the points of the daggers met, and killed 
it on the spot." 

The power of becoming a man- or were-tiger (as it 
has sometimes been called), is supposed to be confined 
to one tribe of Sumatrans, the Korinchi Malays, many 
of whom are to be met with in the Malay Native States. 


This belief is very strongly held, and on one occasion, 
when I asked some Malays at Jugra how it could be 
proved that the man really became a tiger, they told 
me the case of a man some of whose teeth were plated 
with gold, and who had been accidentally killed in the 
tiger stage, when the same gold plating was discovered 
in the tiger's mouth. 1 

Of the strength of the Malay belief in were-tigers 
Mr. Clifford writes : 

" The existence of the Malayan Loup Garou to the 
native mind is a fact, and not a mere belief. The 
Malay knows that it is true. Evidence, if it be needed, 
may be had in plenty ; the evidence, too, of sober- 
minded men, whose words in a Court of Justice would 
bring conviction to the mind of the most obstinate 
jurymen, and be more than sufficient to hang the most 
innocent of prisoners. The Malays know well how 
Haji 'Abdallah, the native of the little state of Korinchi 
in Sumatra, was caught naked in a tiger trap, and 
thereafter purchased his liberty at the price of the 
buffaloes he had slain while he marauded in the like- 
ness of a beast. They know of the countless Korinchi 
men who have vomited feathers, after feasting upon 
fowls, when for the nonce they had assumed the forms 
of tigers ; and of those other men of the same race who 
have left their garments and their trading packs in 
thickets whence presently a tiger has emerged. All 
these things the Malays know have happened, and are 

1 It appears that in Java there are only cover his great toes, but which he 
supposed not only to be men who is able gradually to stretch until it 
can themselves become tigers at will, covers his whole person. This sarong 
but men who can turn other people resembles the hide of a Bengal tiger 
into tigers as well. This is done (being yellow with black stripes), and 
by means of a species of sympa- the wearing of it in conjunction with 
thetic magic, the medicine-man draw- the necessary charms will turn the re- 
ing on a sarong (Malay skirt) of quired person into a tiger, 
marvellous elasticity, which at first will 



happening to-day, in the land in which they live, and 
with these plain evidences before their eyes, the empty 
assurances of the enlightened European that Were- 
Tigers do not, and never did exist, excite derision not 
unmingled with contempt." l 

Writing on the same theme, Sir Frank Swettenham 
says : 

" Another article of almost universal belief is that 
the people of a small State in Sumatra called Korinchi 
have the power of assuming at will the form of a tiger, 
and in that disguise they wreak vengeance on those 
they wish to injure. Not every Korinchi man can do 
this, but still the gift of this strange power of meta- 
morphosis is pretty well confined to the people of the 
small Sumatran State. At night when respectable 
members of society should be in bed, the Korinchi 
man slips down from his hut, and, assuming the form 
of a tiger, goes about ' seeking whom he may devour.' 

" I have heard of four Korinchi men arriving in a 
district of Perak, and that night a number of fowls 
were taken by a tiger. The strangers left and went 
farther up country, and shortly after only three of them 
returned and stated that a tiger had just been killed, 
and they begged the local headman to bury it. 

" On another occasion some Korinchi men appeared 
and sought hospitality in a Malay house, and there also 
the fowls disappeared in the night, and there were un- 
mistakable traces of the visit of a tiger, but the next 
day one of the visitors fell sick, and shortly after 
vomited chicken-feathers. 

"It is only fair to say that the Korinchi people 
strenuously deny the tendencies and the power ascribed 
to them, but aver that they properly belong to the 

1 Clifford, In Court and Kampong, pp. 65, 66. 


inhabitants of a district called Chenaku in the interior 
of the Korinchi country. Even there, however, it is 
only those who are practised in the ettmu sehir, the 
occult arts, who are thus capable of transforming them- 
selves into tigers, and the Korinchi people profess 
themselves afraid to enter the Chenaku district." 

There are many stories about ghost tigers (rimau 
krawat), which are generally supposed to have one 
foot a little smaller than the others (kaki tengkis). 
During my stay in the Langat district I was shown 
on more than one occasion the spoor of a ghost tiger. 
This happened once near Sepang village, on a wet 
and clayey bridle -track, where the unnatural small- 
ness of one of the feet was very conspicuous. Such 
tigers are considered invulnerable, but harmless to 
man, and are looked upon generally as the guardian 
spirits of some sacred spot. One of these sacred 
spots was the shrine (kramat) of 'Toh Kamarong, 
about two miles north of Sepang village. This 
shrine, it was alleged, was guarded by a white ghost 
elephant and ghost tiger, who ranged the country 
round but never harmed anybody. One day, how- 
ever, a Chinaman from the neighbouring pepper 
plantations offered at this shrine a piece of pork, 
which, however acceptable it might have been to a 
Chinese saint, so incensed the orthodox guardians of 
this Muhammadan shrine that one of them (the ghost 
tiger) fell upon the Chinaman and slew him before 
he could return to his house. 

By far the most celebrated of these ghost tigers, 
lowever, were the guardians of the shrine at the foot 
)f Jugra Hill, which were formerly the pets of the 
Princess of Malacca (Tuan Putri Gunong Ledang). 

1 Malay Sketches, pp. 200, 201. 


Local report says that this princess left her country 
when it was taken by the Portuguese, and established 
herself on Jugra Hill, a solitary hill on the southern 
portion of the Selangor coast, which is marked on 
old charts as the " False Parcelar" hill. 

The legend which connects the name of this 
princess with Jugra Hill was thus told 1 by Mr. G. C. 
Bellamy (formerly of the Selangor Civil Service). 

" Bukit Jugra (Jugra Hill) in its isolated position, 
and conspicuous as it is from the sea, could scarcely 
escape being an object of veneration to the uneducated 
Malay mind. The jungle which clothes its summit 
and sides is supposed to be full of hantus (demons 
or ghosts), and often when talking to Malays in my 
bungalow in the evening have our discussions been 
interrupted by the cries of the langswayer (a 
female birth-demon) in the neighbouring jungle, or 
the mutterings of the bajang (a familiar spirit) as 
he sat on the roof-tree. But the 'Putri' (Princess) 
of Gunong Ledang holds the premier position amongst 
the fabulous denizens of the jungle on the hill, and it 
is strange that places so far apart as Mount Ophir 
and Bukit Jugra should be associated with one 
another in traditionary lore. The story runs that 
this estimable lady, having disposed of her husband 
by pricking him to death with needles, 2 decided 
thenceforth to live free from the restrictions of 
married life. She was thus able to visit distant 
lands, taking with her a cat 3 of fabulous dimensions 
as her sole attendant. This cat appears to have 
been a most amiable and accommodating creature, 
for on arriving at Jugra he carried the Princess on 

1 Set. Jourtt. vol. i. No. 6, p. 87. 3 Or two cats, vide infra. 

2 Or with a needle, vide infra. 


his back to the top of the hill. Here the lady re- 
mained for some time, and during her stay constructed 
a bathing- place for herself. Even to this day she 
pays periodical visits to Jugra Hill, and although she 
herself is invisible to mortal eye, her faithful attendant, 
in the shape of a handsome tiger, is often to be met 
with as he prowls about the place at night. He has 
never been known to injure any one, and is reverently 
spoken of as a rimau kramat (ghost tiger)." 

To the above story Mr. C. H. A. Turney (then 
Senior District Officer and stationed at Jugra) added 
the following : 

" The Princess and the stories about her and the 
tiger are well known, and the latter are related from 
mother to daughter in Langat. 

" There are, however, they say, one or two 
omissions ; instead of one tiger there were two, the 
real harimau kramat and an ambitious young tiger 
who would also follow the Princess in her round of 
visits. This brute came to an untimely and igno- 
minious end (as he deserved to) at the hands of one 
Innes, who was disturbed whilst reading a newspaper, 
and this can be verified by Captain Syers. 

" The other tiger jogged along gaily with his 
phantom mistress, and made night hideous with his 
howlings and prowlings all about the Jugra Hill. 
He was really kramat, and was said to have been 
shot at by several Malays, and the present Sergeant- 
Major Allie, now stationed at Kuala Lumpur, can 
vouch for this." 1 

1 Sel. Journ. vol. i. No. 8, p. 115. (ghost tigers) reminds me of the excite- 
Later Mr. Turney, writing under ment there was in the town because a 
the nom de plume of a well-known clever lady, called Miss Bird, was 
Chinese servant, added the follow- coming and would write about the 
ing : place and people. 

"Talking of the harimau kramat " My master had obtained intimation 


I myself collected at the time the following extra 
details : 

" The local version of the legend about the kramat 
at the foot of Jugra Hill runs somewhat as follows : 
Once upon a time one Nakhoda Ragam was travelling 
with his wife (who is apparently to be identified with 
the Princess of Malacca, Tuan Putri Gunong Ledang) 
in a boat (sampan), when the latter pricked him to 
death with a needle (mati di-chuchok jarum). His 
blood flooded the boat (darah-nya hanyut dalam sam- 
pan], and presently the woman in the boat was hailed 
by a vessel sailing past her. ' What have you got in 
that boat ? ' said the master of the vessel, and the 
Princess replied: 'It is only spinach -juice' (kiiak 
bayani). She was therefore allowed to proceed, and 
landed at the foot of Jugra Hill, where she buried 
all that yet remained of her husband, which consisted 
of only one thigh (paha). 1 She also took ashore her 
two cats, which were in the boat with her, and which, 
turning into ghost tigers, became the guardians of this 
now famous shrine. " ! 

Tigers are naturally too fierce to be tracked by the 
Malays, and are usually caught in specially con- 
structed traps (penjara rimau}, or killed by a self- 

of this lady's wants, and was directed the tiger, which was in a state of good 

to receive her on a certain date, and preservation, and Miss Bird regretted 

the Sultan's people were told that a that she was too late to taste the flesh, 

great ' cherita (story) writer ' was cpm- which, my master said, made very 

ing who would tell the world of our good 'devilled steaks,' not unlike 

Sultan and his dominions. venison!" (S. J. vol. i. No. II, 

' ' On the appointed day the lady p. 171.) 

arrived, and accompanying her were J It may perhaps be supposed that 

a crowd of gentlemen, who were sup- she had thrown the rest of the body 

posed to help her to get information. overboard before she was surprised by 

"They all dined at my master's, and the sailing vessel. 

the subjects discussed were very various, 2 Cp. the other versions of this tale 

among others was the kramat (ghost) given in N. and Q., No. 3, Sees. 33, 

tiger, which had been shot a few days 34 (issued with J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 

previously. They admired the skin of 15). 


acting gun or spear-trap (Vlantek snapang, tilantek 
tfrbang, Vlantek parap, etc.) ; but even in this case 
the Pawang explains to the tiger that it was not he 
but Muhammad who set the trap. There are, how- 
ever, as might be expected, a great number of charms 
intended to protect the devotee in various ways from 
the tiger's claws and teeth. Of these I will give one 
or two typical specimens. 

Sometimes a charm is used to keep the tiger at a 
distance (penjauh rimau): 

" Ho, BSrsenu ! Ho, Bgrkaih ! 
I know the origin from which you sprang ; 
(It was) Sheikh Abuniah Lahah Abu Kasap. 
Your navel originated from the centre of your crown, 
Your breasts are [to be seen] in [the spoor of] your fore-feet. 1 
May you go wide (of me) as the Seven Tiers of Heaven, 
May you go wide (of me) as the Seven Tiers of Earth ; 
If you do not go wide, 
You shall be a rebel unto God," etc. 

Sometimes the desired effect is expected to be 
obtained by a charm for locking the tiger's jaws : 

" Ho, Sir Cruncher ! Ho, Sir Muncher ! 
Let the twig break under the weight of the wild goose. 
Fast shut and locked be (your jaws), by virtue of 'AH Mustapah, 
OM. Thus I break (the tusks of) all beasts that are tusked, 
By virtue of this Prayer from the Land of Siam." 2 

1 The explanation given to me of certainly bear a grudge against you ! " 
these two lines was that they were both To do this you must repeat the Arabic 
based on a fancied resemblance between words with which the charm (just 
the parts referred to. quoted) concluded, and then pronounce 

2 A similar charm runs, " Madam the Malay word buka, which means 
Ugly is the name of your mother, Sir "open." The Malays are fond of 
Stripes the name of your body. I fold enigmatical expressions, in which the 
up your tongue and muzzle your mouth ; part of a word is made to stand for the 
-wig -eak [stands for] let the twig break whole. Cp. infra " Teng [stands for] 
break with the weight of this well- the Satengteng flower." Sometimes 
fed wild goose. Be (your mouth) shut these expressions are propounded as 
fast and locked. If a bachelor loses riddles, e.g. " Ti tiong kalau kalau" 
his vocation, it does not matter." (Here out of which the guesser was supposed 
follow a few words of Arabic.) On to make " Ranyak-banyak &>SI, 
reaching home you must never forget 

to unlock the tiger's jaws, or "// will 


The next specimen is described as a "charm for 
fascinating " (striking fear into) a " tiger and hardening 
one's own heart " : 

" O Earth-Shaker, rumble and quake ! 
Let iron needles be my body-hairs, 
Let copper needles be my body-hairs ! 
Let poisonous snakes be my beard, 
A crocodile my tongue, 

And a roaring tiger in the dimple of my chin. 
Be my voice the trumpet of an elephant, 
Yea, like unto the roar of the thunderbolt. 
May your lips be fast closed and your teeth clenched ; 
And not till the Heavens and the Earth are moved 
May your heart be moved 
To be wroth with or to seek to destroy me. 
By the virtue of ' There is no god but God,' " etc. 

To which may be added 

" Kun ! Payah Run ! 

Let (celestial) splendour reside in my person. 
Whosoever talks of encountering me, 
A cunning Lion shall be his opponent. 
O all ye Things that have life 
Endure not to confront my gaze ! 
It is I who shall confront the gaze of you, 
By the virtue of 'There is no god but God.' " 

When tigers were wounded, it was said (in Selan- 
gor) that they would doctor themselves with ubat 
tasak, which is the name generally given to a sort of 
poultice used by those who have just undergone cir- 
cumcision. And when a tiger was killed a sort of 
public reception was formerly always accorded to him 
on his return to the village. 

Though I have not seen the actual reception 
(generally miscalled a "wake"), I once saw near 
Kajang in Selangor a tiger which had been prepared 
for the ceremony. The animal was propped up on all 
fours as if alive, and his mouth kept open by propping 


the roof with a stick. It was unfortunately impossible 
for me to wait for the ceremony, but from a description 
which I received afterwards, it was evidently regarded 
as a sort of " reception " given by the people of the 
village to a live and powerful war-chief or champion 
(hulubalang) who had come to pay them a visit, the 
dancing and fencing which takes place on such occa- 
sions being intended for his entertainment. 

One of these ceremonies, which took place in Jugra 
in Selangor, was thus described : 

A Tiger's Wake 

"At 10 A.M. a great noise of rejoicing, with drums 
and gongs, approaching Jugra by the river, was heard, 
and on my questioning the people, I was told Raja 
Yakob had managed to shoot a tiger with a spring 
gun behind Jugra Hill, and was bringing it in state to 
the Sultan. I went over to the Sultan's at Raja 
Yakob's request to see the attendants on the slaughter 
of a tiger. The animal was supported by posts and 
fastened in an attitude as nearly as possible approach- 
ing the living. Its mouth was forced open, its tongue 
allowed to drop on one side, and a small rattan attached 
to its upper jaw was passed over a pole held by a man 
behind. This finished, two swords were produced and 
placed crosswise, and a couple of Panglimas * selected 
for the dance ; the gongs and drums were beaten at a 
quick time, the man holding the rattan attached to the 
tiger's head pulled it, moving the head up and down, 
and the two Panglimas, after making their obeisance to 
the Sultan, rushed at their swords, and holding them in 
their hands commenced a most wild and exciting dance. 

1 Chiefs, especially with reference to military functions. 


They spun around on one leg, waving their swords, 
then bounded forward and made a thrust at the tiger, 
moving back quickly with the point of the weapon facing 
the animal ; they crawled along the ground and sprung 
over it uttering defiant yells, they cut and parried at 
supposed attacks, finally throwing down their weapons 
and taunting the dead beast by dancing before it un- 
armed. This done, Inas told me the carcase was at 
my disposal. 

" The death of the tiger now establishes the fact 
of the existence of tigers here, for asserting which I 
have been pretty frequently laughed at. However 
this is not the Jugra pest, a brute whose death would 
be matter for general rejoicing, the one now destroyed 
being a tigress 8 feet long and 2 feet 8 inches high." 

I may add that both the claws and whiskers of 
tigers are greatly sought after as charms, and are 
almost invariably stolen from a tiger when one is killed 
by a European. I have also seen at Klang a charm 
written on tiger's skin. 

The Deer' 1 

Anthropomorphic ideas are held by the Malays 
almost as strongly in the case of the Deer as of any 
other animal. 

The Deer is, by all Malays, believed to have sprung 
from a man who suffered from a severe ulcer or abscess 
(chabuK) on the leg, (which is supposed to have left its 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 3, p. 139. own red deer; and the axis (A. 

2 " Two large and four species of maculata) or spotted deer. Of the 
small deer are found in the Peninsula, small or Moschine species, the kijang 
besides the babi rusa or hpg-deer, is the largest ; next to this comes the 
which however is not a member of the napuh ; the third in size is the lanak ; 
same order. The large species are : and the smallest is the pelandok or 
the sambur (Rusa Aristotelis), a true pigmy deer." Denys, Descr. 
rather savage animal, larger than our Diet, of Brit. Malaya, s.v. Deer. 


trace on the deer's legs to this day). Of the Perak 
form of this legend Sir William Maxwell writes as 
follows : 

" The deer (rusa) is sometimes believed to be the 
metamorphosed body of a man who has died of an 
abscess in the leg (chabiik), because it has marks on 
the legs which are supposed to resemble those caused 
by the disease mentioned. Of course there are not 
wanting men ready to declare that the body of a man 
who has died of chabuk has been seen to rise from 
the grave and to go away into the forest in the shape 
of a deer." 1 

The Selangor legend is practically identical with 
that current in Perak. 

The deer are frequently addressed, in the charms 
used by the hunters, exactly as if they were human 
beings, e.g. 

" If you wish to wear bracelets and rings 
Stretch out your two fore-feet." 

These rings and bracelets are of course the nooses 
which depend from the toils. 

In a charm of similar import we find : 

" Ho, Crown Prince (Raja Muda) with your Speckled Princess 

(Ptitri Dandi), 

Rouse you quickly (from your slumbers) 
And clasp (round your neck) King Solomon's necklace." 

I may add that in some places the Pawang (magi- 
cian) will himself first enter the toils, probably with 
the object of deceiving the stag as to their nature and 

The ceremonies for hunting deer are somewhat 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., NO. 7, p. 26. 


intricate, and it will perhaps be best to commence by 
giving a general description of deer-catching as prac- 
tised by the Malays. 

" This pastime " 1 (deer-catching) " is one the Malay 
delights in. After a rainy night, deer may be easily 
traced to their lair by their footprints, and as they 
remain stationary by day the hunters have ample time 
to arrange their apparatus. When the hiding-place 
is discovered all the young men of the kampong- 
assemble, and the following ceremony is performed 
before they sally out on the expedition : Six or eight 
coils of rattan rope, about an inch in diameter, are 
placed on a triangle formed with three rice-pounders, 
and the oldest of the company, usually an experienced 
sportsman, places a cocoa-nut shell filled with burning 
incense in the centre, and taking sprigs of three bushes, 
viz. the jellatang, sapunie, and sambon 3 plants (these, 
it is supposed, possess extraordinary virtues), he walks 
mysteriously round the coils, beating them with the 
sprigs, and erewhile muttering some gibberish, which, 
if possessing any meaning, the sage keeps wisely to 
himself. During the ceremony the youths of the 
village look on with becoming gravity and admiration. 
It is believed that the absence of this ceremony would 
render the expedition unsuccessful, the deer would 
prove too strong for the ropes, and the wood demons 
frustrate their sport by placing insurmountable obstacles 
in their way. Much faith appears to be placed in the 
ceremony. Each coil referred to above is sixty to 
seventy fathoms long, and to the rope running nooses, 
made also of rattan rope, are attached about three feet 

1 J. D. Vaughan in J.LA. vol. xi. of this name. Possibly it may stand 
quoted in Denys, I.e. for sarimbun or samdau, the latter 

2 Village or hamlet. of which at least is commonly used 

3 Sambon. I do not know any plant by Malay medicine-men. 


apart from each other. On reaching the thicket 
wherein the deer are concealed, stakes are driven into 
the ground a few feet apart in a straight line, the coils 
are then opened out, and the rope attached to the 
stakes, two or three feet above the ground, with the 
nooses hanging down, and two of the party conceal 
themselves near the stakes armed with knives for the 
purpose of despatching the deer when entangled in the 
nooses. The remainder of the hunters arrange them- 
selves on the opposite side of the thicket and advance 
towards it, shouting and yelling at the top of their 
voices. The deer, startled from their rest, spring to 
their feet and naturally flee from the noise towards the 
nooses, and in a short time are entangled in them. As 
they struggle to escape, the concealed hunters rush out 
and despatch them. Occasionally the flight is pro- 
longed till the major party arrives, and then the noble 
creatures soon fall beneath the spears and knives of 
their assailants. The animal is divided between the 
sportsmen." l 

The "gibberish" employed by the deer Pawangs 
when the latter enter the jungle is intended to induce 
the wood demons and earth demons to recede, or at 
least to dissuade them from active interference with 
the proceedings. Charms are also employed by the 
Pawang, as he proceeds, from time to time, to "ask 
for " a tree (to which the toils may be fastened) ; to 
" ask for " a deer ; to unroll and suspend the toils ; to 
call upon the spirits (who are the herdsmen of the 
deer) to drive the latter down to meet the dogs ; to 
turn back the deer when they have got away ; to 

1 I may add that the first person to neys (?) and the Paiuang to get the 
draw blood is supposed to get sabatang other half. 
daging ttmbusir, a moiety of the kid- 


"prick" or urge on the dogs, or make them bark; 
to stop wild dogs from barking in the jungle, or those 
of the pack from barking at the wrong moment ; to 
deceive the deer as to the reality of the toils used by 
the hunters ; to deceive the spirits as to the identity 
of the hunting-party ; and, finally, to drive out the 
" mischief" (badi) from the carcase of the slain animal ; 
examples of all of which will be found in the course of 
the next few pages. 

The first charm which I give is one used in " ask- 
ing for deer " : 

" Ho ! master of me your slave, Sidi the Dim-eyed, 
Si Lailanang and Si Laigan his brother, 
Si Deripan, Si Baung, Si Bakar, 

Si Songsang (Sir Topsy Turvy), Si Berhanyut (Sir Floater), 
Si Pongking, Si Temungking ! 
I demand Deer, a male and a female, 
Blunt-hoofed, hard-browed, 
Long-eared, tight-waisted, 
Shut-eyed, shaggy-maned, spotted; 
If not the shut-eyed, the shaggy-maned and the spotted, 
The " rascal," the starveling, the mere skeleton. 
Most fervently we beg this boon, by the light of this very same day, 
By virtue of the c kiraman katibin.' 1 
And here is the token of my petition." 2 

The directions proceed : 
" On first entering the jungle, say 

" Ho, Hantu Bakar, Jembalang Bakar, 
Turn a little aside, 
That I may let loose my body-guard." 

(By which the "pack " is no doubt intended.) 

1 Kiramun katibun (lit. "illustrious tioned in the Koran. Vide Hughes, 

writers") are the two recording angels Diet, of Islam, s.v. 

who are said to be with every man, 2 The token consists in chopping 

one on the right hand to record his down a small tree and with it piercing 

good deeds, and one on his left to the slot of the deer, 
record the evil deeds. They are men- 


"When you meet the slot, examine the slot. If it is a little 
shortened on one side, the quarry is in some danger ; if it has gone 
lame of one hoof, it is a sign that it will be killed within seven 

" After entering the jungle, and finding the dogs, wait for the 
dogs to bark, and then give out this ' cooee ' 

" Ho ! Si Lanang, Si Lambaun, 
Si Ktor, Si Becheh ! 

Ye Four Herdsmen of the Deer, 

Come ye down to meet the dogs. 

And refuse not to come down 

Or ye shall be rebels unto God, etc. 

It is not I who am huntsman, 

It is Pawang Sidi (wizard Sidi) that is huntsman ; 

It is not I whose dogs these are, 

It is Pawang Sakti (the ' magic wizard ') whose dogs these are ; 

Let Dang Durai cross the water, 

It is only a civet-cat that is left for me. 

Grant this by virtue of my teacher, 'Toh Raja 

May his art be yet more powerful in my hands. 1 

By virtue of c There is no god but God,' " etc. 

A deer Pawang ('Che Indut) also gave me this 
charm for recital when the support (lit. "shoulder") of 
the noose is being cut (for which purpose it would 
appear that a young tree of the kind called " Delik " is 
usually taken). 

" The Delik's branches spread out horizontally (at the top), 2 
Chop at it, and it will produce roots. 

Though its bark is destroyed, a cudgel is still left for people's bones, 
Even though it be worked on by the charm Kalinting Bakar." 3 

1 Or, ' ' whose art is more powerful ' Peace be with you, O 'Tap, Prophet of God, in 

t v- n mirip " whose charge is the Earth. 

""r , I ask for this tree (to enable me) to make fast 

P Possibly an allusion to the branch- these toils.' 

ing of the stag's horns. The last two Here ^ ^ ^ ^ . 
lines of this charm are obscure. 

3 Another Pawang gave me the ' Sir Tuft ' is the name of our rattan, 

following account, which is much 'Sir Ring' is the name of our toils." 
fuller : "On entering the jungle [The point of this charm is that " Sir 

carry the toils with you till you meet Tuft " is an allusion to the origin of 

with the slot of the deer, and then ask the rattan rope, which must have come, 

for a tree, saying as follows of course, from the " tufted " creeper 


From the same source I obtained this charm, ad- 
dressed to the Deer, but intended for fixing the scent 
(menetapkan 6au], and for suspending the toils (mema- 
sang jerat) : 

" Teng l [stands for] the satengteng flower, 
Ascend ye the twin stream. 
If you delight in bracelets and rings 
Push forward your two fore-feet. 

"When setting the nooses (bubohkan perindu jeraf) say, address- 
ing the deer as before : 

" Be filled with yearning, be filled with longing, 
As the Holy Basil grows even to a rock, 

Be filled with yearning as you sit, be filled with yearning as you go, 
Fast-bound by love of this noose of mine." 

The directions given me by another Pawang com- 
menced with a charm for emboldening the dogs, 
after which the account proceeds : 

"When you have finished (the charm referred to), take seven 
steps forward, leaving the toils behind you, and standing erect, look 
forward and call as follows : 

" O all ye Saids (lawful descendants of the Prophet), 
Unto you, my Lords, belong the Deer, 
Si Lambaun was the origin of the Deer, 
Si Lanang is their Herdsman, 
Drive ye the Deer into our toils. 

of that name. Similarly, " Sir Ring " Sir Yellow Glow knows all the ins and outs of 

is supposed to be an allusion to the These toils of ours are twofold, O let them not 
ring which formed the original unit of be staled. 

the toils, a collection of rings or nooses **% SWo^SSaTfiST 

The object of mentioning the origin of If they are staled by the dogs, let our toils still 
anything is that doing so is supposed kill the quarry. 

1 , & ., , i If they are staled by men, let our toils still kill 

to give one power over the article so ^ quarryj by ' virtue ofj . etc-> etc- .. 

addressed, v. p. 156 n., supra.} "Hav- 
ing completed the unrolling of the toils, l Probably a pun upon teng, which 

double the connecting rope (from which was explained to me as meaning 

the nooses hang) in two, and when this kaki ta-6'laA ("one foot only"), as in 

is done, enter them, holding them by bMeng-teng, "to go on one foot," 

the connecting rope (kajar), and say to hobble; tengkis, "with one foot 

; shortened or shrunken," etc. The 

' O Mentala (i.e. Batara) Guru, and Teachers "satengteng flower" was explained 
one and all (dengan Guru uru-urv), and Sir , , 

Yellow Glow, as another name for the satawar. 


This causeway of rock (f if fan bahi) is your high road and market- 

The resort of innumerable people. 
Follow, follow in long procession, 
And let the " Assembly "-Flower unfold its petals. 
Come in procession, come in succession, 
Our toils have come to summon you to the spot. 
Ho, Deer that are unfortunate, Deer that are curst, 
Enter this path of mine which is empty of men. 
On the left stand spearmen, 
On the right stand spearmen, 
And whichever of (those two) ways you go, 
By that self-same way will you be turned back. 

" Now proceed till you meet the stag, and as he rouses himself 
from slumber, say : 

" Ho, Crown Prince with your Speckled Princess, 
Rouse you in haste and slip on King Solomon's royal breast orna- 

Receive it, receive it in your turn, 
And do ye (huntsmen) shout ' Bi ' again and again. 

" [Here the spearmen right and left shout in concert.] 
" So, too, when spearing the deer, say 

" It is not I who spear you, 
It is Pawang Sidi who spears you. 

" When you have secured a deer, flick (kebaskari) the carcase 
thrice in a downward direction with a black cloth or with 
a leafy spray (if you will), such as the deer feed upon, for in- 
stance with the sendayan (or sendereian, a kind of sedge), or 
with fern-shoots, and call out : 

" O Si Lanang, Si Lambaun, 
Si KStor, Si Becheh, who are Four Persons, 
Take back your own share (of the carcase). 1 

1 The corresponding charm for driv- D me n harm r scathe. 

ing out the mischief, given by another "*SgS?** * sha " * con ' 

deer Pawang ('Che Indut), appears to Eaten and enclosed in Disaster (bintongan), 

be more appropriate : ofTh^Koran"' 11 by tbe ^^ Divisions 

, - ,. , . , Smitten by the sanctity of the Four Corners of 
O Mischief, Mother of Mischiefs, tne g^rth 

MLschiefsOne Hundred and Ninety (in number), By virtue of e'tc. etc. 
[ 1 know the origin from which you sprang. 

The mischief of an Iguana was your origin. Bintongan was explained to me care- 

The Heart of Timber was your origin, f..ii v -- _ h^nfkana fralnmitv or 

The Yellow Glow of Sunset was your origin, - oetunana (calamity or 

Return to the places from whence ye came, disaster). 



" Here ' take the representative parts, pierce them with a rattan 
line, and suspend them from a tree.' " 

But the fullest account of this ceremony (of driving 
out the mischief from the carcase) runs as follows : 

" When you have caught the deer, cast out the mischief from it 
(buang dia-punya badt). To effect this, take a black jacket such as 
can cast out this mischief (if no black jacket is obtainable, take the 
branch of any tree), and stroke (the carcase) from the head down- 
wards to the feet and the rump, saying as you do so : 

" Ho Badi Serang, Badi Mak Buta, 
Si Panchor Mak Tuli, 
It is not I who cast out these mischiefs, 
It is the Junior Dogboy who casts them out. 
It is not I who cast out these mischiefs, 
It is the Dogboy Rukiah who casts them out. 
It is not I who cast out these mischiefs, 
It is Mukael 1 (Michael) who casts them out. 
It is not I who cast out these mischiefs, 
It is Israfel who casts them out. 
It is not I who cast out these mischiefs, 
It is Azrael who casts them out. 
It is not I who cast out these mischiefs, 
It is Mukarael (?) who casts them out. 
I know the origin of these mischiefs, 
They are the offspring of the Jin Ibni Ujan, 2 
Who dwell in the open spaces and hill-locked basins. 
Return ye to your open spaces and hill-locked basins, 
And do me no harm or scathe. 
I know the origin from which you spring, 
From the offspring of the Jin Ibni Ujan do ye spring. 

" Here take small portions of his eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hind-feet, 
fore-feet, hair (of his coat), liver, heart, spleen and horns (if it be a 
stag), wrap them up in a leaf, and deposit them in the slot of his 
approaching tracks, saying : ' O Mentala (Batara) Guru, one a month, 
two a month, three a month, four a month, five a month, six a month, 
seven a month (be the deer which fall) by night to you, by day to 
me. One deer I take with me, and one I leave behind.' " 

A deer Pawang named 'Che Indut gave me a charm 

1 This and the four succeeding names Israfel, Azrael, and Gabriel." Vide 
are evidently corruptions of the names p. 98, supra. 
of the four archangels, " Michael, 2 Vide pp. 94, 95, note, supra. 


for turning the deer back upon their tracks, "though 
their flesh was torn to rags and their bones well- 
becudgelled." It concluded with the following appeal 
to the spirits : 

" Ho (ye Spirits) turn back my Deer ! 
If you do not turn them back, 
At sea ye shall get no drink, 
Ashore ye shall find no food. 
By virtue of the word of God," etc. 

I will conclude with the following charm, believed 
to be a means of bringing the stag low : 

" Measure off three sticks (probably dead wood taken from the 
slot of the deer, as in the case of the elephant), their length being 
measured by the distance from the roof of your mouth to the 
teeth of the lower jaw. Lay these sticks in a triangular form in- 
side the slot of the stag, press the left thumb downwards in the 
centre of the triangle, and humble your heart. This will humble 
the deer's heart too." 

The Mouse-deer or chevrotin is the " Brer Rabbit " 
of the Malays. It figures in many proverbial sayings 
and romances, in which it is credited with extraor- 
dinary sagacity, and is honoured by the title of " Mentri 
B'lukar," the "Vizier of the (secondary) Forest- 
Growth." 1 

It is generally taken by means of a snare called 
tapah pelandok, but sometimes by tapping on the 
ground with sticks (niengetok pelandok\ the sound of 
which is supposed to imitate the drumming of the 
buck's fore-feet upon the ground in rutting-time, by 
which the attention of the doe is attracted. Whatever 
the reason may be, there is no doubt that the method 
is often successful. 

When this "tapping" method is adopted, the 

1 In the Pllandok Jinaka, a Malay " Sheikh l alam (or Shah 'aJam) di Rim- 
beast-fable, the Mouse-deer is styled 6a," " Chief (or King) of the Forest" 


charms used are similar to those used for calling the 
big deer, e.g. 

" Arak-arak iring-iring 
Kembang bunga si Panggil-Panggil, 
Datang berarak, datang beriring, 
Raja Suleiman datang memanggil. 

Follow in procession, follow in succession, 
The Assembly-flower has opened its petals. 
Come in procession, come in succession, 
King Solomon comes to summon you." 

But at the end of the charm is added, " Ini-lah 
gong-nya" i.e. "This is his (King Solomon's) gong." 

The stick which is used may be of any kind of 
wood except a creeper, and the best place for the 
operation is where the ground sounds hollow when 
tapped. Either three, five, or seven leaves must, 
however, be laid on the spot before the tapping is 

The directi9ns for setting the snare (jerat or tapah 
pelandok} were taken down by me as follows : 

First look for a tree whose sap is viscid, and chop 
at it thrice (with a cutlass). If the splinters fall, one 
the right and the other the wrong way up (lit. one 
prone and the other supine), it is a bad sign (though it 
is a good sign when one is setting a trap) ; for in the 
case of a snare they must fall the wrong way up 

When this is done, commence to set the snare 
near the foot of a tree, at about a fathom's distance, 
and say : 

" As a cocoa-nut shell rocks to and fro 
When filled with clay, 
Avaunt ye, Jembalang and Badi, 
That I may set this snare." 


Next you say : 

" Ho, Sir ' Pointed-Hoof,' 
Sir 'Sharp-Muzzle,' 

Do you step upon this snare that I have spread 
Within two days or three. 

If you do not step upon this snare that I have spread 
Within two days or three, 

You shall be choked to death with blood in your throat, 
You shall be in sore straits within the limits of your own Big Jungle. 
At sea you shall get no drink, 
Ashore you shall get no food, 
By virtue of," etc. 


Hunting-dogs are spoken to continually as if they 
were human beings. Several examples of this occur 
in the deer charms. 

Thus we find the following passage addressed to 
the dogs : 

" Let not go the scent, 
Formidable were you from the first ; 

Hot-foot, hot-foot, do you pursue, 

If you do not pursue hot-foot, 

I will minimise my benediction (lit. my ' Peace be with you '). 

If it (the deer) be a buck, you shall have him for a brother ; 

If it be a doe, you shall have her for a wife." 

So too, again, after calling several dogs by name, 
the Pawang gets together the accessories (leaves of the 
tukas and lenjuang, a brush of leaves (sa-cherek) and a 
black cloth), and exclaims : 

" Bark, Sir Slender-foot ; bark, Sir Brush-tail." 

The Pawang generally tries to deceive the deer as 
to his ownership of the hunting-dogs. Thus he will 
say : 


" It is not I whose dogs these are, 
It is the magical deer Pawang whose dogs these are." 

So, too, they are called by certain specific names 
(according to their breed and colour), which are in 
several cases identical with the names of the dogs 
with which the wild Spectre Huntsman (the most 
terrible of all personified diseases in the Malay cate- 
gory) hunts down his prey. 1 

Ugliness is by no means looked upon as a dis- 
advantage, but rather the opposite. An ugly dog is 
apparently formidable. Thus we find a dog addressed 
as follows : 

" Let not go the scent (of the quarry) 
As you were formidable (lit. ugly) 2 from the first." 

Again, the description of the "good points" of 
some of these dogs which is given in the Appendix 
would, if ugliness and formidability are convertible 
terms, satisfy the most exacting whipper-in, the so- 
called good points being for the most part a mere 
list of deformities. These points, however, are merely 
the external sign of the Luck to which dogs, as well 
as human beings, are believed to be born. In a 
fine passage we are told : 

" From the seven Hills and the seven Valleys 
Comes the intense barking of my Dogs. 
My Dogs are Dogs of Luck, 
Not Luck that is adventitious, 
But Luck incarnate with their bodies. 
Go tread upon the heaped and rotting leaves, 
And never desert the scent." 

Speaking of dog-lore generally, it may be remarked 
that though dogs are very frequently kept by the 

1 Vide p. 117. 
2 Cp. our use of the phrase " an ugly customer," -vide App. Ixxxi. 


Malays, it is considered unlucky to keep them. "The 
dog ... is unlucky. He longs for the death of his 
master, an event which will involve the slaying of 
animals at the funeral feast, when the bones will fall to 
the dogs. When a dog is heard howling at night, he 
is supposed to be thinking of the broken bones (niat 
handak mengutib tulang patati)" * 

Even the wild dogs in the jungle 2 are warned not 
to bark, and are addressed as if they were human : 

" If you bark your windpipe shall burst, 
If you smack your lips your tongue shall be docked. 

If you come nearer, you shall break your leg ; 

Return to the big virgin jungle, 

Return to your caverns and hill-locked basins, 

To the stream which has no head-waters, 

To the pond which was never dug, 

To the waters which bear no passengers 

To the fountain-head which is [never] dry. 

If you do not return, you shall die, 

Cursed by the First Pen (i.e. the Human Tongue), 

Pierced by the twig of a gomu/i-pa\m, s 

Impaled by a palm thatch-needle, 

Transfixed by a porcupine's quill." 

Bears and Monkeys 

" The Bear 4 is believed to be the mortal foe of the 
Tiger, which he sometimes defeats in single combat. 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, p. 26. we shall not be affected by them. 

2 The wild dogs of the jungle are Therefore do all Malays give tongue 
considered by Malays to be not natural when they meet the wild dog in the 
dogs, but "ghost "dogs of the pack of the forest." 

Spectre Huntsman. They are regarded 3 Or Sugar-palm (Arenga sacchari- 
ns most dangerous to meet, for, accord- /era). 

ing to a Malay informant, " if they bark 4 " The Malayan Sun-bear, the only 
at us, we shall assuredly die where we animal of the bear species in the Pen- 
stand and shall not be able to return insula. It is also known as the Honey - 
home ; if, however, we see them and bear, from its fondness for that sweet, 
bark at them before they bark at us, It is black in colour, with the excep- 


(jBruang, the Malay word for 'bear,' has a curious 
resemblance to our word 'Bruin.' 1 ) A story is told 
of a tame bear which a Malay left in charge of his 
house and of his sleeping child while he was absent 
from home. On his return he missed his child, the 
house was in disorder, as if some struggle had taken 
place, and the bear was covered with blood. Hastily 
drawing the conclusion that the bear had killed and 
devoured the child, the enraged father slew the animal 
with his spear, but almost immediately afterwards he 
found the carcase of a tiger, which the faithful bear had 
defeated and killed, and the child emerged unharmed 
from the jungle, where she had taken refuge. It is 
unnecessary to point out the similarity of this story to 
the legend of Beth-Gelert. It is evidently a local 
version of the story of the Ichneumon and the Snake 
in the Pancha-tantra. " 

Monkeys and men have always been associated in 
native tradition, and Malay folklore is no exception 
to the rule. Thus we get the tradition of the great 
man-like ape, the Mawas (a reminiscence of the orang- 
outang or mias of Borneo), which is said to make 
shelters for itself in the forks of trees, and to be born 
with the blade of a cutlass (woodknife) in place of the 
bone of the forearm, so that it is able to cut down 
the undergrowth as it walks through the jungle. It 

tion of a semi-lunar-shaped patch of l Bruin is also the Dutch word for a 

white on the breast, and a yellowish- bear. The Malay form Beruang has 

white patch on the snout and upper also been derived from ruang, which 

jaw. The fur is fine and glossy. Its is assumed, for this occasion only, to 

feet are armed with formidable claws, mean a "cave," in order that Beru- 

and its lips and tongue are peculiarly ang may be explained as meaning the 

long and flexible, all three organs cave-animal. There is no evidence, 

adapting it to tear open and get at the however, to show that ruang ever did 

apertures in old trees where the wild mean a cave, nor is the Malay bear a 

bees usually build." Denys, Descr. cave-animal. 

Die. Brit. Mai., s.v. Bruang. 2 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, p. 23. 


is believed, moreover, occasionally to carry off and 
mate with human kind. 1 

The Siamang (Hylobates lar)? which walks on its 
hind-legs, is, however, the species which is most 
commonly associated in legend with the human race ; 
in fact, it is not impossible that there may sometimes 
have been a confusion between its name (siamang) 
and Semang, which is the name of one of the abori- 
ginal (Negrito) races of the interior. The following 
Malay legend, which I took down at Labu in Selangor 
is believed to explain its origin, and also that of the 
Bear: 8 - 

Once upon a time her Highness the Princess 
Telan became the affianced bride of Si Malim 
Bongsu. After the betrothal Si Malim Bongsu 
sailed away and did not return when the period of 
the engagement, which was fixed at from three to 
four months, came to an end. 

Then Si Malim Panjang, elder brother of Si 
Malim Bongsu, decided to take the place of his 
younger brother, and be married to the Princess 
Telan. The latter, however, repelled his advances, 
and he therefore attacked her savagely ; but she 

1 Cp. Cliff., Stud, in Brown Hum. bank of the river. If any matter of 
p. 243 seqq. (The Strange Elopement fact person should doubt the truth of 
of Chaling the Dyak). this tradition, are there not two facts 

2 There seems to be some doubt as for the discomfiture of scepticism the 
to the scientific nomenclature properly monkey forts (called Batu Mawah to 
applicable to the Siamang. this day) threatening each other from 

The following is a specimen of a opposite banks of the river, and the 
monkey legend : "A little farther up- assurance of all Perak Malays that no 
stream two rocks facing each other, one Mawah is to be found on the left bank?" 
on each side of the river, are said to -J.R.A.S.^ S.B., No. 9, p. 48. 
have been the forts of two rival tribes 3 According to another account, the 
of monkeys, the Mawah (Simia lar) siamang is said to have originated 
and the Siamang (Simia syndactyla), in from akar pulai, i.e. the roots of a 
a terrible war which was waged between pulai tree (the Malay substitute for 
them in a bygone age. The Siamangs cork, used to form floats for the fishing- 
defeated their adversaries, whom they nets), 
have ever since confined to the right 


turned herself into an ape (siamang) and escaped to 
the jungle, so that Si Malim Panjang desisted from 
pursuit. Then the ape climbed up into a pagar- 
anak tree which grew on the sea-shore, and leaned 
over the sea, and there she chanted these words : 

" O my dear Malim Bongsu, 

You have broken your solemn promise and engagement, 
And I have to take upon myself the form of an ape." 

Now Si Malim Bongsu was passing at the time, 
and on recognising the voice of the Princess Telan he 
took a blow-gun and shot her so that she fell into the 
sea. Then he took rose-water and sprinkled it over 
her, so that she resumed her natural shape, and they 
started to go home together. Still, however, Si 
Malim Bongsu would not wed her, but promised that 
he would do so when he came back from his next 
voyage, whereupon the Princess chanted these 
words : 

" If you do not return within three months 
You will find me turned into an ape." 

The same course of events, however, happened as 
before. Malim Bongsu did not return at the time 
appointed ; his elder brother, Malim Panjang once 
more attacked her, and, leaping towards an areca 
palm, she once more became an ape, whereupon she 
chanted as before : 

" O my dear Malim Bongsu, 

You have broken your solemn promise and engagement, 
And I am forced to become an ape." 

Again Malim Bongsu, as he passed by, heard and 
recognised her voice ; but upon learning that he had 
been for the second time the cause of his Princess's 
troubles, he exclaimed, " Better were it for me were 


I nothing but a big fish " ; and leaping into the water 
he disappeared, and was changed into a big fish as he 

Now the Princess's nurse (who was called "The 
Daughter of Sakembang China ") was at the same time 
transformed into a bear, and as they were bathing 
at the time when they were surprised, and had not 
time to wash off all the soap (rice-cosmetic), the white 
marks on the breast and brows of the bear and on 
the breast and brows of the ape (siamang) have 
remained unto this day. 

Occasionally the opposite transformation is believed 
to take place, some species of the monkey tribe being 
supposed to turn into fish. 

Thus the tira (Macacus cynomolgus) is believed to 
develop into a species of fish called senunggang, 
and of the fish called kalul (kalui or kalue), Sir W. E. 
Maxwell writes : " The ikan kalul (is believed) to be 
a monkey transformed. Some specially favoured ob- 
servers have seen monkeys half through the process 
of metamorphosis half-monkey and half-fish." The 
species of monkey which is believed to turn into the 
ikan kalul is, as I was told in Selangor, the ffrok or 
"cocoa-nut monkey." 

" Ber hakim kapada brok is a Malay proverbial 
expression which means, "'To make the monkey 
judge,' or, 'to go to the monkey for justice.' A 
fable is told by the Malays of two men, one of whom 
planted bananas on the land of the other. When the 
fruit was ripe each claimed it, but not being able to 
come to any settlement they referred the matter to 
the arbitration of a monkey (of the large kind called 
brok]. The judge decided that the fruit must be 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., NO. 7, p. 26. 


divided ; but no sooner was this done than one of 
the suitors complained that the other's share was too 
large. To satisfy him the monkey reduced the share 
of the other by the requisite amount, which he ate 
himself. Then the second suitor cried out that the 
share of the first was now too large. It had to be 
reduced to satisfy him, the subtracted portion going to 
the monkey as before. Thus they went on wrangling 
until the whole of the fruit was gone, and there 
was nothing left to wrangle about. Malay judges, if 
they are not calumniated, have been known to pro- 
tract proceedings until both sides have exhausted 
their means in bribes. In such cases the unfortunate 
suitors are said to ber hakim kapada brok." 1 

The Wild Pig and Other Animals 

There are several superstitions about the Wild 
Boar which prove that it was not always regarded as 
an unclean animal. 

Of these the following recipe, which was given 
me by a Jugra (Selangor) Malay, for turning brass 
into gold is the most remarkable : 

" Kill a wild pig and rip open its paunch. Sew 
up in this a quantity of old 'scrap' brass, pile timber 
over it, burn it, and then leave it alone until the grass 
has grown right over it. Then dig up the gold." 
Again, certain wild boars are believed to carry on 
their tushes a talisman of extraordinary power, which 
is called rantei babi, or "Wild Boar's Chain." 
This chain consists, it is asserted, of three links of 
various metals (gold, silver, and amalgam), and is 
hung up on a shrub by the wild boar when he is 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. I, pp. 93, 94. 


enjoying his wallow, so that it is occasionally stolen 
by Malays who know his habits. I may add that, 
according to a Malay at Langat, the " were-tiger" 
(rimau jadi-jadian) occasionally appears in the shape 
of a wild boar escaping from a grave, in the centre 
of which may be afterwards seen the hole by which 
the animal has escaped. 

" Among the modern Malays avoidance of the flesh 
of swine and of contact with anything connected with 
the unclean animal is, of course, universal. No tenet 
of El-Islam is more rigidly enforced than this. It is 
singular to notice, among a people governed by the 
ordinances of the Prophet, traces of the observance 
of another form of abstinence enjoined by a different 
religion. The universal preference of the flesh of 
the Buffalo to that of the Ox in Malay countries is 
evidently a prejudice bequeathed to modern times 
by a period when cow -beef was as much an abomina- 
tion to Malays as it is to the Hindus of India at 
the present day. This is not admitted or suspected 
by ordinary Malays, who would probably have some 
reason, based on the relative wholesomeness of buffalo 
and cow-beef, to allege in defence of their preference 
of the latter to the former." l 

To the above I may add that it is invariably the 
flesh of the Buffalo, and not that of the Ox, which is 
eaten sacrificially on the occasion of festivities. 2 But 
the flesh of the so-called White (albino) Buffalo 
(kerbau balar] is generally avoided as food, though I 
have known it to be prescribed medicinally (as in the 
case of Raja Kahar, a son of H.H. the Sultan of 

1 J.R.A.S,, S.B., No. 7, p. 22. breast-ornament (dokoh) hung round its 

2 The sacrificial buffalo (when pre- neck(z*V& PI. n,Fig. 2). In the case of 
sented to a Raja) is covered with a a great Raja or Sultan, yellow cloth is 
cloth, and has its horns dressed and a used. 


Selangor, the circumstances of whose illness will be 
detailed elsewhere). 1 As might be expected, a story is 
told by the Malays to account for this distinction. The 
general outline of the tale is to the effect that a Malay 
boy (a mere child) fell into the big rice-bin (kepok) in 
his parents' absence and was suffocated by the rice. 
After some days the body began to decompose, and 
the ooze emanating from the rice-bin was licked up by 
a buffalo belonging to the boy's parents. The atten- 
tion of these latter being thus attracted to the rice-bin, 
they found therein the remains of their child, and 
thereupon cursed the buffalo, which (we are led to 
infer) became " white," and has remained so ever 
since. According to one version, a ground - dove 
(tekukur) was implicated both in the offence and the 
punishment which followed it. Wherefore to this 
day no man eats of the flesh of either of the offenders. 

Perhaps the most extraordinary transformation 
in which the Malays implicitly believe is that of the 
Squirrel, which is supposed to be developed from a 
large caterpillar called ulat sentadu? 

About the Cat there are many superstitions which 
show that it is believed to possess supernatural 
powers. Thus it is supposed to be lucky to keep 
cats because they long for a soft cushion to lie upon, 
and so (indirectly) wish for the prosperity of their 

1 Infra, Chap. VI. pp. 450-452. disiacs by the natives. . . . Among 

2 I may add that the dried penis of them are the ovipositor of a grass- 
the squirrel (chtila tupei) is believed to hopper, which is popularly supposed to 
be a most powerful aphrodisiac, and be the male organ of the squirrel ; 
that many Malays believe that squirrels Balanophora, sp. , a rare plant growing 
are occasionally found dead with this on Mount Ophir, and the Durian (Durio 
organ caught fast in cleft timber. zibetkinus)." Mr. Ridley regards the 

Mr. H. N. Ridley, in a pamphlet on use of Balanophora for this purpose as 

Malay Materia Medica, already referred an illustration of the "doctrine of 

to, says : signatures." 

"Many things are used as aphro- 


master. 1 On the other hand, cats must be very 
carefully prevented from rubbing up against a corpse, 
for it is said that on one occasion when this was 
neglected, the badi or Evil Principle which resides 
in the cat's body entered into the corpse, which thus 
became endowed with unnatural life and stood up 
upon its feet. So too the soaking of the cat in a pan 
of water until it is half-drowned is believed to produce 
an abundance of rain. 2 It is, besides, believed to be 
extremely unlucky to kill cats. Of this superstition 
Mr. Clifford says : 

" It is a common belief among Malays that if a 
cat is killed he who takes its life will in the next 
world be called upon to carry and pile logs of wood, 
as big as cocoa-nut trees, to the number of the hairs 
on the beast's body. Therefore cats are not killed ; 
but if they become too daring in their raids on the 
hen-coop or the food rack, they are tied to a raft and 
sent floating down stream, to perish miserably of 
hunger. The people of the villages by which they 
pass make haste to push the raft out again into 
mid-stream, should it in its passage adhere to bank 
or bathing-hut, and on no account is the animal 
suffered to land. To any one who thinks about it, 
this long and lingering death is infinitely more cruel 
than one caused by a blow from an axe ; but the 
Malays do not trouble to consider such a detail, and 
would care little if they did." 8 

Before leaving the subject of cats, I must mention 
the belief that the " fresh- water fish called ikan belidah " 
was "originally a cat." Sir W. E. Maxwell says that 
many Malays refuse to eat it for this reason, and 

1 VideJ.R.A.S., S.3., I.e. 3 In Court and Kampong, p. 47. 

2 Vide p. 108, supra. 


adds, " They declare that it squalls like a cat when 
harpooned, and that its bones are very white and 
fine like a cat's hairs." 1 A story is also sometimes 
told to account both for the general similarity of habits 
of the cat and the tiger and for the fact that the latter, 
unlike most of the Felida, is not a tree-climber. It 
is to the effect that the cat agreed to teach the tiger 
its tricks, which it did, with the exception of the art 
of climbing trees. The tiger, thinking it had learnt 
all the cat's tricks, proceeded to attack its teacher, 
when the cat escaped by climbing up a tree ; so the 
tiger never learnt how to climb and cannot climb trees 
to this day. 

Even the smallest and commonest of mammals, such 
as Rats and Mice, are the objects of many strange 
beliefs. Thus "clothes which have been nibbled by 
rats or mice must not be worn again. They are sure 
to bring misfortune, and are generally given away in 
charity." 2 

So too on the Selangor coast a mollusc called siput 
tantarang or mentarang is believed to have sprung 
from a mouse ; and many kinds of charms, generally 
addressed to the " Prophet Joseph " (Nabi Yusuf), are 
resorted to in order to drive away rats and mice from 
the rice-fields. 

The following passage describes the general ideas 
about animal superstitions which prevail on the east 
coast of the Peninsula : 

"The beliefs and superstitions of the Fisher Folk 
would fill many volumes. They believe in all manner 
of devils and local sprites. They fear greatly the 
demons that preside over animals, and will not 
willingly mention the names of birds or beasts while 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, p. 26. 2 Ibid. 


at sea. Instead, they call them all ch$weh l which, 
to them, signifies an animal, though to others it is 
meaningless, and is supposed not to be understanded 
of the beasts. To this word they tack on the 
sound which each beast makes in order to indicate 
what animal is referred to ; thus the pig is the 
grunting chSweh, the buffalo the chweh that says 'uak,' 
and the snipe the chdweh that cries ' kek-kek' Each 
boat that puts to sea has been medicined with care, 
many incantations and other magic observances having 
been had recourse to, in obedience to the rules which 
the superstitious people have followed for ages. After 
each take the boat is ' swept ' by the medicine man 
with a tuft of leaves prepared with mystic ceremonies, 
which is carried at the bow for the purpose. The 
omens are watched with exact care, and if they be 
adverse no fishing-boat puts to sea that day. Every 
act in their lives is regulated by some regard for the 
demons of the sea and air, and yet these folk are 
nominally Muhammadans, and, according to that faith, 
magic and sorcery, incantations to the spirits, and 
prayers to demons, are all unclean things forbidden 
to the people. But the Fisher Folk, like other 
inhabitants of the Peninsula, are Malays first and 
Muhammadans afterwards. Their religious creed goes 
no more than skin deep, and affects but little the manner 
of their daily life." 2 


The Vegetation Spirit of the Malays " follows in 
some vague and partial way," to use Professor Tyler's 

1 I have not heard this word used a In Court and Kampong, pp. 147, 

on the west coast. It is of the east 148. 
coast that Mr. Clifford is here writing. 



words, from the analogy of the Animal Spirit. It is 
difficult to say, without a more searching inquiry than 
I have yet had the opportunity of making, whether 
Malay magicians would maintain that all trees had 
souls (semangaf] or not. All that we can be certain 
of at present is that a good many trees are certainly 
supposed by them to have souls, such, for instance, as 
the Durian, the Cocoa-nut palm, and the trees which 
produce Eagle- wood (gharu\ Gutta Percha, Camphor, 
and a good many others. 

What can be more significant than the words and 
actions of the men who in former days would try and 
frighten the Durian groves into bearing ; or of the 
toddy-collector who addresses the soul of the Cocoa-nut 
palm in such words as, " Thus I bend your neck, 
and roll up your hair ; and here is my ivory toddy- 
knife to help the washing of your face " ; 1 or of the 
collectors of jungle produce who traffic in Eagle- 
wood, Camphor, and Gutta (the spirits of the first 
two of which trees are considered extremely powerful 
and dangerous) or, above all, of the reapers who carry 
the " Rice-soul " home at harvest time ? 

A special point in connection with the Malay con- 
ception of the vegetation soul perhaps requires par- 
ticular attention, viz. the fact that apparently dead and 
even seasoned timber may yet retain the soul which 
animated it during its lifetime. Thus, the instruc- 
tions for the performance of the rites to be used at the 
launching of a boat (which will be found below under 
the heading " The Sea, Rivers, and Streams") 2 involve 
an invocation to the timbers of the boat, which would 
therefore seem to be conceived as capable, to some 
extent, of receiving impressions and communications 

1 Vide p. 217, infra. 2 Vide p. 279, infra. 


made in accordance with the appropriate forms and 

So, too, a boat with a large knot in the centre 
of the bottom is considered good for catching fish, 
and in strict conformity with this idea is the 
belief that the natural excrescences (or knobs) and 
deformities of trees are mere external evidences of 
an indwelling spirit. So, too, the fruit of the cocoa-nut 
palm, when the shell lacks the three " eyes " to which 
we are accustomed, is believed to serve in warfare as a 
most valuable protection (pelias) against the bullets of 
the enemy, and the same may be said in a minor 
degree of the joints of " solid " bamboo (buluh tumpat] 
which are occasionally found, whilst to a slightly differ- 
ent category belong the comparatively numerous ex- 
amples of " Tabasheer " (mineral concretions in the 
wood of certain trees), which are so highly valued by 
the Malays for talismanic purposes. Such trees as the 
Mali mali, Rotan jernang (Dragon's-blood rattan), 
Buluk kasap (rough bamboo), etc., are all said to 
supply instances of the concretions referred to, but the 
most famous of them all is without doubt the so-called 
"cocoa-nut pearl," of which I quote the following 
account from Dr. Denys's Descriptive Dictionary of 
British Malaya. 

Cocoa-nut Pearls 

The following remarks concerning these peculiar 
accretions are extracted from Nature : 

" During my recent travels," Dr. Sidney Hickson 
writes to a scientific contemporary, " I was frequently 
asked by the Dutch planters and others if I had ever 
seen ' a cocoa-nut stone.' These stones are said to 
be rarely found (i in 2000 or more) in the perisperm 


of the cocoa-nut, and when found are kept by the 
natives as a charm against disease and evil spirits. 
This story of the cocoa-nut stone was so constantly 
told me, and in every case without any variation in 
its details, that I made every effort before leaving to 
obtain some specimens, and eventually succeeded in 
obtaining two. 

"One of these is nearly a perfect sphere, 14 mm. 
in diameter, and the other, rather smaller in size, is 
irregularly pear-shaped. In both specimens the sur- 
face is worn nearly smooth by friction. The spherical 
one I have had cut into two halves, but I can find no 
concentric or other markings on the polished cut 

" Dr. Kimmins has kindly submitted one-half to a 
careful chemical analysis, and finds that it consists of 
pure carbonate of lime without any trace of other salts 
or vegetable tissue. 

" I should be very glad if any of your readers 
could inform me if there are any of these stones in 
any of the museums, or if there is any evidence 
beyond mere hearsay of their existence in the peri- 
sperm of the cocoa-nut." 1 

On this letter Mr. Thiselton Dyer makes the 
following remarks : " Dr. Hickson's account of the 
calcareous concretions occasionally found in the central 
hollow (filled with fluid the so-called ' milk ') of the 
endosperm of the seed of the cocoa-nut is extremely 
interesting. It appears to me a phenomenon of the 

1 One of these stones (cocoa nut nut in which it was found, for it is 

pearls) in my possession has recently asserted that it is usually, if not always, 

been presented to the Ethnological found in the open eye or orifice at the 

Museum at Cambridge. It is encircled base of the cocoa-nut, through which 

by a dark ring, caused, I was told, by the root would otherwise issue. W. S. 
its adherence to the shell of the cocoa- 


same order as tabasheer, to which I recently drew 
attention in Nature. 

" The circumstances of the occurrence of these 
stones or ' pearls ' are in many respects parallel to 
those which attend the formation of tabasheer. In 
both cases mineral matter in palpable masses is with- 
drawn from solution in considerable volumes of fluid 
contained in tolerably large cavities in living plants ; 
and in both instances they are monocotyledons. 

"In the case of the cocoa-nut pearls the material 
is calcium carbonate, and this is well known to concrete 
in a peculiar manner from solutions in which organic 
matter is also present. 

"In my note on tabasheer I referred to the 
reported occurrence of mineral concretions in the 
wood of various tropical dicotyledonous trees. Ta- 
basheer is too well known to be pooh-poohed ; but 
some of my scientific friends express a polite incre- 
dulity as to the other cases. I learn, however, from 
Prof. Judd, F.R.S., that he has obtained a specimen 
of apatite found in cutting up a mass of teak-wood. 
The occurrence of this mineral under these circum- 
stances has long been recorded ; but I have never 
had the good fortune to see a specimen." 

The Durian 

The Durian tree (for an account of whose famous 
fruit the classical description in Wallace's Malay 
Archipelago may be referred to) is a semi- wild fruit- 
tree, whose stem frequently rises to the height of 
some eighty or ninety feet before the branches are 

1 Quoted from the Singapore Free Press in Denys' Descriptive Dictionary of 
British Malaya, p. 80. 


met with. It is generally planted in groves, which 
are often to be found in the jungle when all other 
traces of former human habitation have completely dis- 
appeared, though even then its fruit, if tradition says 
true, is as keenly fought over by the denizens of the 
forest (monkeys, bears, and tigers) as ever it was by 
their temporary dispossessors. Interspersed among 
the Durian trees will be found numerous varieties of 
orchard trees of a less imperial height, amongst which 
may be named the Rambutan, 1 Rambei, 2 Lansat, 3 
Duku, 4 Mangostin, 5 and many others. A small grove 
of these trees, which was claimed by the late Sultan 
'Abdul Samad of Selangor, grew within about a mile of 
my bungalow at Jugra, and I was informed that in years 
gone by a curious ceremony (called Menyemah durian) 
was practised in order to make the trees more pro- 
ductive. On a specially selected day, it was said, the 
village would assemble at this grove, and (no doubt 
with the usual accompaniment of the burning of 
incense and scattering of rice) the most barren of 
the Durian trees would be singled out from the rest. 
One of the local Pawangs would then take a hatchet 
(be Hong) and deliver several shrewd blows upon the 
trunk of the tree, saying : 

" Will you now bear fruit or not ? 
If you do not I shall fell you." 6 

To this the tree (through the mouth of a man who had 

1 Nephelium lappaeum, L. (Sapin- * Resembling the last named, but 
daceae). larger, and finer in flavour. 

2 Baccaurea motleyana, Hook. fil. ' G " rcinia "&'*> L - ( Gutti ' 

^uphorbiaceae). , , , , 

I r bakarang kau mahu berbuah, atau 

'- Or Langsat (Lansium domesticum, tidak ? 

Jack' Meliaceae). Kalau tidak, aku tebangkan. 


been stationed for the purpose in a Mangostin tree 
hard by) was supposed to make answer : 

" Yes, I will now bear fruit ; 
I beg you not to fell me." J 

I may add that it was a common practice in the 
fruit season for the boys who were watching for the 
fruit to fall (for which purpose they were usually 
stationed in small palm -thatch shelters) to send 
echoing through the grove a musical note, which they 
produced by blowing into a bamboo instrument called 
tuang-tuang. I cannot, however, say whether this 
custom now has any ceremonial significance or not, 
though it seems not at all unlikely that it once had. 2 

The Malacca Cane 

No less distinct are the animistic ideas of the 
Malays relating to various species of the Malacca- 
cane plant. Mr. Wray of the Perak Museum writes 
as follows : 

" A Malacca-cane with a joint as long as the height 
of the owner will protect him from harm by snakes 
and animals, and will give him luck in all things. 
What is called a samambu bangku? or daku, possesses 

1 Ya-lah, sakarang aku 'tia blrbuah 3 In Selangor a freak of this kind is 
Aku minta? jangan di-t?bang. called samambu bangkut, or "dwarfed 

2 This instrument consisted of a (stunted) samambu." One of this 
single short joint of bamboo, about species belonged to the Sultan, and was 
nine inches in length by three inches kept in a yellow case. Sometimes, 
in diameter, closed at one end only, whether through the splitting of the 
near which was an orifice into which bark on one side or some similar cause, 
the performer blew. These instru- an excrescence like a gigantic rat-tail 
ments (tuang-tuang) are reported to will form on one side of the stem, a 
lave been formerly used by the Langat peculiarity which is believed to give 
pirates, and are said to be still used the stick that is made from it immense 
by the Malay fishermen at Bernam, value. To merely tap a person in play 
in Selangor, for calling their boats with one of these sticks (which are 
together. called sfngat part or "sting -rays' 


the power of killing any one even when the person 
is only slightly hurt by a blow dealt with it. These 
are canes that have died down and have begun to 
shoot again from near the root. They are very rare, 
one of eighteen inches in length is valued at six or 
seven dollars, and one long enough to make a walking 
stick of, at thirty to fifty dollars. At night the rotan 
samambu plant is said to make a loud noise, and, 
according to the Malays, it says, ' Bulam sampei, bulam 
sampei,' * meaning that it has not yet reached its full 
growth. They are often to be heard in the jungle 
at night, but the most diligent search will not reveal 
their whereabouts. The rotan manoh^ is also said 
to give out sounds at night. The sounds are loud 
and musical, but the alleged will-o'-the-wisp character 
of the rattans which are supposed to produce them 
seems to point to some night-bird, tree-frog, or lizard 
as being the real cause of the weird notes, though 
it is just possible that the wind might make the 
rattan leaves vibrate in such a way as to cause the 
sounds." 3 

In Selangor it is the stick-insect (keranting) which 
is believed to be the embodiment of the " Malacca- 
cane spirit " (Hantu Samambu], by which last name 
it is most commonly called. These stick-insects are 
believed by the Selangor Malays to produce the sounds 
to which Mr. Wray refers, and in order to account 
for their peculiar character a story is told, the main 
features of which are as follows : 

tails ") will, it is believed, raise a most invulnerable (jadi pPlias). Cp. 

painful weal, whilst to strike a person J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 17, p. 155. 

hard with one would assuredly kill * In Selangor bflum sampei is the 

him. A Malacca-cane, one of whose phrase used. 

knots is inverted and the other not, is 2 In Selangor rotan manau. 

also considered of great value, being 3 Sel. Journ. vol. iii. No. 6, pp. 95> 

believed to render the bearer of it 96. 


Once upon a time a married couple fell out, and 
the husband surreptitiously introduced stones into the 
cooking-pot in place of the yams which his wife was 
cooking. Then he went off to climb for a cocoa-nut, 
and as he climbed, he mocked her by calling out 
" Masak btlum ? Masak bZlum ? " ("Are they cooked 
yet ? Are they cooked yet ? "). What she did by 
way of retaliation is not clear, but as he climbed and 
mocked her, she is said to have retorted, " Panjat 
bZlum? Panjat belum?" ("Have you climbed it 
yet ? Have you climbed it yet ? "), a reply which 
clearly shows that her woman's wit had been at work, 
and that she was not going to allow her husband to 
get the better of her. 1 However this may be, 
a deadlock ensued, the result of which was that 
both parties were transformed into stick -insects, 
but were yet condemned to mock each other as 
they had done during the period of their human 

I have often from my boat, during dark nights on 
the Langat river, listened to the weird note which my 
Malays invariably ascribed to these insects, and which 
is not inaptly represented by one of the Malay names 
for them, viz. " belum-belam" I have not yet, how- 
ever, succeeded in identifying the real producer of the 
note, of which all I can say at present is, that although 
it may not be itself discoverable, the Malays look upon 
it as a certain guide to the localities where the Malacca- 
canes grow. 

1 Another Selangor version says that " Are they cooked yet ? " (Masak 

whilst the wife is boiling the stones, the bllum f), as in the version just given, 

husband is climbing the Malacca-cane and the wife cries, " Have you reached 

plant (samambu) in order to get to the it yet? Have you reached it yet?" 

sky. The husband keeps calling out, (Sampei bZlum >) 


The Tualang or Sialang Tree 

So too of the Tualang-tree Mr. Wray writes : 
" One of the largest and stateliest of the forest 
trees in Perak is that known as Toallong, or Toh 
Allong ; x it has a very poisonous sap, which produces 
great irritation when it comes in contact with the skin. 
Two Chinamen who had felled one of these trees in 
ignorance, had their faces so swelled and inflamed that 
they could not see out of their eyes, and had to be led 
about for some days before they recovered from the 
effects of the poison. Their arms, breasts, and faces 
were affected, and they presented the appearance of 
having a very bad attack of erysipelas. These trees 
are supposed to be the abiding - places of hantu, or 
spirits, when they have large hollow projections from 
the trunk, called rumah hantu, or spirit houses. These 
projections are formed when a branch gets broken off 
near the trunk, and are quite characteristic of the tree. 
There are sometimes three or four of them on a large 
tree, and the Malays have a great objection to cutting 
down any that are so disfigured, the belief being that 
if a man fells one he will die within the year. As a 
rule these trees are left standing when clearings are 
made, and they are a source of trouble and expense to 
planters and others, who object to their being left 

" The following series of events actually happened: 

A Malay named Panda Tambong undertook, against 

the advice of his friends, to fell one of the Toh Allong 

trees, and he almost immediately afterwards was taken 

ill with fever, and died in a few weeks' time. Shortly 

1 In Selangor it is called Tualang Alang ?), and is the tree on which the 
(='Toh Alang?) and Sialang ( = Si wild bees build their nests. 

v BEE TREES 203 

after this some men were sitting plaiting ataps l under 
the shade of another of these ill-omened trees, when, 
without any warning, a large branch fell down, breaking 
the arm of one man, and more or less injuring two 
others. There was not a breath of wind at the time, 
or anything else likely to determine the fall of the 
branch. After this it was decided to have the tree 
felled, as there were coolie houses nearly under it. 
There was great difficulty in getting any one to fell it. 
Eventually a Penang Malay undertook the job, but 
stipulated that a Pawang, or sorcerer, should be 
employed to drive away the demons first. The 
Pawang hung pieces of white and red cloth on sticks 
round the tree, burnt incense in the little contrivances 
made of the split leaf-stalks of the bertam palm, used 
by the Malays for that purpose, cut off the heads of 
two white fowls, sprinkled the blood over the trunk, 
and in the midst of many incantations the tree was 
felled without any mishap ; but, strange to say, the 
Pawang, who was a haji^ and a slave-debtor of the 
Toh Puan Halimah, died about nine months after- 
wards." 3 

There appears to be very little reason to doubt 
that the word Tualang (To/i Alang or Sialang] is the 
name not of a particular species of tree, but rather the 
generic name of all trees in which wild bees have built 
their nests, so that in reality it simply means a " Bee- 

I have not yet succeeded in obtaining any of the 
Malay charms used by the collectors of these bees' 
nests, except such as are used by Sakais under Malay 

1 Strips of palm-leaves for thatching - One who has made the pilgrimage 

houses. to Mecca. 

3 SeL Journ. vol. iii. No. 6, p. 96. 




influence on the Selangor coast, the Sakais being 
most usually the collectors. Some of these latter, 
however, were pure Malay charms, and may perhaps 
be considered, in the absence of charms collected from 
Malays, as evidence of at least secondary importance. 
One of these charms commences as follows : 

" Here is the Peeling-knife, the knife with the long handle, 
Stuck into the buttress of a Pulai-Tree." l 

And another, which is almost word for word the 
same, as follows : 

" Here is the Peeling-knife, the knife with the long handle, 
With which to stab (lit. peck at) the buttress of the Pulai-Tree." 2 

It will be noticed that both refer to the 
by name, and not to the Tualang. The footnote which 
I here quote with reference to the customs of Siak is, 
almost word for word, equally true of the Bee-Trees 
in Selangor. 3 

1 Vide App. Ixxxvi. 

2 Vide App. Ixxxvii. 

3 "Certain customs are observed in 
Siak in the collection of wax which 
may be mentioned here. 

" The sialang (that is, a tree on which 
bees have made nests) is generally con- 
sidered to belong to him who finds it, 
provided it stands in a part of the 
forest belonging to his tribe. Should 
the tree stand in a part of the jungle 
apportioned to another tribe, the finder 
is permitted to take for once all the 
wax there is on the tree, and ever after- 
wards, during his lifetime, all the wax of 
one branch of the tree. After his death 
the tree becomes the property of the 
tribe to whom that part of the jungle 

" When wax is collected from a tree 
there are generally three persons to 
share in it, and the proceeds are divided 
as follows : viz., one-third to the pro- 
prietor of the tree, one-third to the man 

who climbs the tree, and one-third to 
the man who keeps watch below. 
These two latter offices are considered 
rather dangerous, the first because he 
has to climb the towering sialang trees, 
branchless to a considerable height, by 
means of bamboo pegs driven into the 
trunk ; and the watch-keeper under- 
neath, because he has to face the bears 
and tigers who (so it is said) come after 
the wax and honey. 

"The following trees are generally 
inhabited by bees (lebah}, and then 
become sialangs ; near the sea, pulei, 
kempas, kayu arah, and babi kurus ; 
whilst farther in the interior ringas 
manuk and chempedak ayer are their 
general habitats. 

" Besides the lebah there is to be 
found in Siak another bee, called 
neruan, which does not make its nest 
on trees, but in holes. 

"The regulations observed when 
taking the wax of the lebah do not 


Other haunted trees (pokok b&rhantu) are the 
Jawi-jawi, the Jelotong, and BeYombong, of which 
the following tradition will perhaps suffice : 

" All trees," according to Malay tradition, " were 
planted by 'the Prophet Elias,' 1 and are in the 
'Prophet Noah's' charge. In the days of King 
Solomon, trees could speak as well as birds and 
animals, and several of the trees now to be seen in 
the forest are really metamorphosed human beings. 
Such are the 'Jelotong' and the ' Berombong,' which 
in the days of King Solomon were bosom friends, 
until there broke out between them an unfortunate 
quarrel, which terminated in ' Si Jelotong's ' lacing the 
skin of 'Si Berombong' all over with stabs from his 
dagger, the effect of which stabs remains visible to 
this day. Si Berombong, on the other hand, cursed 
Si Jelotong with his dying breath, praying that he 
might be turned into a tree without any buttresses to 
support his trunk, a prayer which was, of course, duly 
fulfilled. Thus originated the lack of buttresses at the 
base of the former tree, and the laced and slashed bark 
of the latter." 

The Lime-Tree 

Yet another tree whose spirit is the object, as it 
were, of a special cult, 2 is the lime-tree, which is revered 
and looked up to almost as their chief patron by the 

apply to the taking of the wax and a description will be given of a method 

honey of the neruan. Anybody is at of augury by means of one of these 

liberty to look for them wherever and lime - fruits into which a spirit was 

whenever he likes." F. Kehding, in supposed to have entered. See also 

J.K.A.S., S.B., No. 17, pp. 156, 157. one of the methods of abducting another 

1 When the orchid was to be planted person's soul by causing it to enter into 
it was found that there was no room a bunch of seven lime-fruits. The use 
for it on the ground between the trees, of the lime-fruit by the Malays for 
and hence it was planted upon them. purposes of ablution was no doubt of 

2 Under the heading of Divination ceremonial origin. 


theatrical players (prang mayong] of Penang. The 
invocations addressed to this spirit show that, as in 
most branches of magic, every part of the tree had its 
appropriate "alias." Thus the root was called the 
"Seated Prince," the trunk the "Standing Prince," the 
bark the " Prince Stretching Himself," the boughs the 
" Stabbing Prince," the leaves the " Beckoning Prince," 
the fruit the " Prince loosing an arrow." 

The Eagle-wood Tree 

The following account of Eagle-wood and of the 
tree which produces it is quoted from the Journal of 
the Straits Asiatic Society : 

"In Crawfurd's Dictionary of the Malay Archi- 
pelago 1 I find the following: 'Agila, the Eagle- wood 
of commerce. Its name in Malay and Javanese is 
kalambak or kalambah, but it is also known in these 
languages by that oigkaru or kayu gharu, gharu-wood, 
a corruption of the Sanskrit agahru. . . . There can be 
no doubt but that the perfumed wood is the result of 
disease in the tree that yields it, produced by the 
thickening of the sap into a gum or resin.' 

"This 'Eagle-wood of commerce,' under its more 
familiar name gkaru, is one of the rarest and most 
valuable products of our Malayan jungles, and the 
following notes may be of interest. They are the 
result of inquiries amongst the Malays and Pawangs in 
Ulu Muar and Johbl, and I am indebted to Mr. L. J. 
Cazalas for much assistance in obtaining the informa- 
tion contained in them. 

" The g/iaru-tree is a tall forest tree, sometimes 
reaching the size of fifteen feet in diameter. The bark 
is of a silvery gray colour, and the foliage close and 

1 Correctly, Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands and Adjacent Countries. 


dense, of a dark hue. The Malay name for the tree is 
" tabak" and no other maybe used by the Pawang 
when in search of the kayu gharu? Gharu, the diseased 
heart-wood of the tabak, is found in trees of all sizes, 
even in trees of one foot in diameter, thus showing 
that the disease attacks the tree at an early stage. 

" "^^ gharu is found in pockets, and may sometimes 
be discovered by the veins which run to these pockets. 
In other trees the veins are absent, which renders the 
process of searching more difficult. The tree is gener- 
ally cut down and left to rot, which exposes the gharu 
in about six months. 

"'Pockets' are found to contain as much as 104 
catties ; a single tree has been known to yield 400 
catties. 2 Gharu is seldom found in the sap-wood, 
generally in the heart-wood or teras. 

"Many ta<fo-trees do not contain gharu at all. To 
select the right trees is the special province of the 
Pawang or wise man. The too-trees are under the 
care of certain hantu or wood-spirits, and it would be 
hopeless for the uninitiated to attempt to find gharu ; 
even the Pawang has to be very careful. 

" The following is the process as far as I have been 
able to ascertain it : 

" On the outskirts of the forest the Pawang must 
burn incense, and repeat the following charm or 
formula : 

"Homali hamali* matilok (mandillah?) serf a kalam mandiyat 

1 The tree is also in Selangor known Baru - &aru, but I cannot in any way 

as 'Aaras or tfngkaras, Tabak or vouch for this. 

'long tabak is the name given to the 2 A catty (kati) is i^ Ib. avoir. 

tree by the wild jungle-tribes, but I 3 Homali hamali looks like a corrup- 

cannot say if it is therefore a Sakai tion of S'ri Dang<wwa/a, S'ri Dang<7wo// 

word in origin. I was told that this in the Rice-charms (</.v.) Otherwise 

product eagle-wood was also occasion- this first sentence is evidently too cor- 

ally found in other trees, such as the rupt to be translated. 


serta teboh. Turun suhaya l trima suka turun kadim serta aku 
kabul kata gharu mustajak 2 kata Allah Berkat la ilaha il'allah. Hei 
Putri Bclingkah? Putri Berjuntei, Putri Mengi?ijan 4 aku meminta 
isi tabak. TJboleh di surohkan, ttfboleh lindong kapada aku kalau 
di-suroh di-lindong-kan biar duraka kapada tuhan? 

"There is no "pantang gharu" except that the 
words "isi" and "tabak" must be used instead of 
"tras" and "gharu"' 

"He then proceeds to search for a likely tree, and 
upon finding one he again burns incense and repeats 
the spell as above. The tree having been cut down, 
the next thing is to separate the gharu from the sap- 
wood. The best way is to let the tree rot, but the 
Pawangis often " hard-up,"and does not mind wasting 
some of the gharu in his hurry to realise. 

"The following are said to be the tests for finding 
gharu in a standing tree : 

1. The tree is full of knots. (Berbungkol.} 

2. The bark full of moss and fungus. (Bertumuh bcrchandawan.} 

3. Heart-wood hollow. (Berlobang.} 

4. Bark peeling off. (Bergugor kulit.) 

5. A clear space underneath. (Mengelenggang.} 

6. Stumps jutting out. (Berchulak.} 

7. Tree tapering. (Bertirus.} 

8. The falling of the leaves in old trees. 

" There are great differences in the quality of 'gharu, 
and great care is taken in classifying them. It requires 

1 Read sahya. no god but God.' Ho, Princess that 

3 Mzistajak: the Selangor form is art Coiled-up, Princess that Danglest, 

"9t&fata6" Princess that Stretchest forth (thine 

arms), I ask that this tree may be full 

3 BXtngkah: read Ar/#*ar. of eagle-wood. Attempt not to com- 

4 Menginjan (sic] : (?) Mfnginjau or mand me, attempt not to conceal your- 
MZninjau. A rough translation is as self from me, for if you do you shall 
follows : [The first sentence is un- be a rebel unto the Lord." 
intelligible.] "'Come down and I 6 This statement must not be accepted 
shall be bound en to you. Come down, without reserve, though it may be true 
O Kadim, in company with me.' ' I of the particular districts in which the 
grant this,' says Eagle-wood. ' So be information contained in this article 
it,' says God. By virtue of ' there is was collected. 


a skilled man to distinguish between some of the 

" The names are as follow : 

1. Chandan} 5. Sikat Lampam? 

2. Tandok. 6. Bulu Rusa. 

3. Menjulong-ulong? 7. Kemandangan. 

4. Sikat. 8. Wangkang. 

11 The chandan (pada tiada champur) is oily, black, 
and glistening. It sinks in water. 

" The tadak very closely resembles the chandan. 

" The menjulong-ulong may be distinguished from 
the chandan and the tandok by its length and small 
breadth. Splinters, 36 inches long, have been found 
evidently from veins, not pockets. 4 

" Sikat (bertabun champur kubal dan teras), fibrous, 
with slight lustre, will just float in water. Black and 
white streaks. 

"Sikat lampam the same as sikat, only white 
streaks more prominent. 

"Bulu Rusa will float in water, fibrous, generally 
of a yellow colour. 

" Kemandangan floats in water, whitish, fibrous 
fragments small. 

" Wangkang floats in water, fibrous blocks whitish 
in colour. 

" The chandan tree differs from other gkaru-trzes in 
having a maximum diameter of about i^- feet, and very 
soft sap-wood. 

" Gharu varies in price between 200 and 50 dollars 

1 In some parts of Selangor, said to Selangor gharu " ist kang tua." The 

be called " nibong" or gharu " tulang following are the names of certain 

s.Viini." other ^ar*/- trees, of which the product, 

- In Selangor called gharu "jfnjo- however, is said to be useless for 

long.'" market purposes. They are gharu 

3 Here " lampan " (?) tutor ; gharu dtdap, gharu kundor, and 

4 Yet another variety is called in gharu akar. 


a.pikul l according to the variety. The chandan and 
the tandok are the most valuable. 

" Chinese and Malays burn it in their houses on high 
days and festivals the latter generally take a supply 
with them on the pilgrimage to Mecca. The better 
varieties are used in the manufacture of aromatic oils." : 

Before setting out to search for gharu, the gharu- 
wizard burns incense and repeats these words, " O 
Grandsire Duita, Divinity of Eagle-wood, if you are 
far, be so good as to say so ; if you are near, be so 
good as to say so," and then sets out on his quest. On 
finding a /#?m-tree he chops the bark of the trunk 
lightly with his cutlass, and then puts his ear to the 
trunk to listen. If he hears a kind of low singing, or 
rather whispering noise (bunyi ting ting] in the tree, 
he takes this as a signification that the tree contains 
gharu (zsi), 3 and after marking the bark with a cross 
(silang ampat) he collects wood to build a temporary 
shelter (pondong) for himself, and when about to plant 
the first post repeats the following charm : 

" O Grandsire Batara of the Earth, Earth-Genie, Earth-Spirit, 
Idol of Iron, Son of Wani, Solitary Wani, 
Son of Wayah, Bandan the Solitary, 
I ask you to show me (an eagle-wood tree), 
If you do not do so 
You shall be a rebel against God," etc. 

The result of this invocation is, or should be, that 
the ^flr^-spirit appears to the wizard (generally, no 

1 Apikulis 133^ Ibs. avoir. heard, even without putting the ear to 

vTD-rD^ccaxr the bark > when the tree was struck by 

, K.JN.U. in J.K.A.S., .X^., JNo. the cu tlass. The Malays, however, look 

l8 > PP- 359-3 01 - upon it as the voice of the spirit, and add 

3 On putting this theory to the test, thatifyouhearitatnightyou must repeat 

I found that the singing noise referred the charm, altering the first line only 

to was in reality nothing but the low to " Ho, offspring of the King of Forest 

whispering noise caused by the flow of Butterflies " (Hei anak S'ri Rama-rama 

the sap, which could be distinctly hutan). 


doubt, in a dream), and informs him what kind of 
sacrifice he requires on this particular occasion. What- 
ever kind of sacrifice is asked for, must of course be 
given, with the exception of a human sacrifice which, as 
it is expressly stated, may be compounded by the sacrifice 
of a fowl. 

When the tree has been felled you must be ex- 
ceedingly careful to see that nobody passes between 
the end of the fallen trunk and the stump ; whoever 
does so will surely be killed by the "eagle- wood 
spirit," who is supposed to be extremely powerful and 
dangerous. I myself received a warning to this effect 
from some Labu Malays when I saw one of these trees 
felled. Malays maintain that men are frequently 
killed by this spirit (mati de Hantu Gharu), but that 
they may be recalled to life if the following recipe is 
acted upon : " Take two ' cubits ' (?) of ' Panchong 
leaves ' (daun panchong dua heta), flowers of the 
sunting mambang, and ' bullock's eye ' limes (limau 
mata kerbau], squeeze [the limes (?)] and rub them over 
the corpse, saying, ' Sir Allah ! Sir Mangga Tangan ! 
God's Essence is in your heart (lit. liver). God's attri- 
butes are in your eyes. Go and entertain the male 
Borer-Bee that is in your heart and liver.' The dead 
man will then revive and stand upon his feet." 

The most important point about eagle-wood, how- 
ever, from the animistic point of view, is the 
Pawang's use of the gharu merupa, a strangely 
shaped piece of eagle-wood which possesses a natural 
resemblance to some animal or bird. It is believed 
to contain the soul of the tree, and therefore is always, 
when possible, carried by the collectors of eagle- 
wood in the belief that it will aid them in their search. 
I myself once owned one of these gharu merupa, 


which possessed a remarkable resemblance to a bird. 
This appears to me very fairly sufficient evidence to 
prove that the tree-soul is not supposed by the Malays 
necessarily to resemble a tree. 1 

The following account of the superstitious notions 
connected with the search for Camphor (kapur 
Barus) is extracted from a paper by Messrs. H. Lake 
and H. J. Kelsall 2 :- 

" The chief interest attaching to the Kapur Barus 
in Johor lies in the superstitions connected with the 
collection of the camphor by the natives, or Orang 

" Amongst these superstitions the most important is 
the use of a special language, the subject of the present 
paper, which has been the means of preserving some 
remnants of the aboriginal dialects of this part of the 
Malay Peninsula. This language is called by the 
Orang Hulu " Pantang Kapur " ; pantang means for- 
bidden or tabooed, and in this case refers to the fact 
that in searching for the camphor the use of the 
ordinary Malay language is pantang, or forbidden. 
In addition to this there are restrictions as to food, etc. 

1 " Thegaharu merupa is a piece of it in hand, the holder is sure to make 

strangely formed gaharu wood, having large finds of gaharu wood in the 

a rough resemblance to some living jungle. 

creature, be it a bird, a dog, a cat, or "Thegatiaru wood is not the wood 

something else. of a tree named gaharu, but is the 

" The writer of these lines has never product of a tree of the name of karas." 

been able to see one of these gaharu -J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 17, p. 154. 

merupa, and it would seem that none 2 J.R. A. S., S.B., No. 26, pp. 39, 40. 

have been found in Siak in recent 3 Orang hulu literally means " men 

times. of the inland country," but here denotes 

" The power which it is believed to especially the aborigines known to the 

possess rests on the supposition that it Malays as Jakun, orang hutan, orang 

is the spirit of the kayu gaharu. With bukit, and by other names. 


" This Camphor language is first referred to by Mr. 
Logan in his account of the aboriginal tribes of the 
Malay Peninsula, 1 and he gives a list of eighty 
words, thirty-three of which are Malay or derived 
from Malay." 

" The Jakuns believe that there is a " bisan" or 
spirit, which presides over the camphor-trees, and 
without propitiating this spirit it is impossible to 
obtain the camphor. This bisan makes at night 
a shrill noise, and when this sound is heard it is a 
sure sign that there are camphor- trees near at hand. 
(This bisan is really one of the Cicadas which are 
so numerous in the Malayan jungles.) 

"When hunting for camphor the natives always 
throw a portion of their food out into the jungle before 
eating, as an offering to the bisan. 

"No prayers are offered up, but all food must be 
eaten dry, i.e. without sumbul? or stewed fish, or vege- 
tables. Salt must not be pounded fine ; if it is eaten 
fine, the camphor when found will be in fine grains ; 
but if eaten coarse the grains of camphor will be large. 
In rainy weather the cry of the bisan is not heard. 
At certain seasons regular parties of Jakuns, and 
sometimes Malays, go into the jungle to search for 
camphor, and they remain there as long as three or 
four months at a time. Not only must the men who 
go into the jungle to search for the camphor speak 
the ' Pantang Kapur,' but also the men and women 
left at home in the Kampongs. 

" The camphor occurs in the form of small grains 
deposited in the cracks in the interior of the trunk 

1 J. I. A., vol. i. p. 293. Nos. i, a Sic: no doubt this is for samdat, a 

3, and 8 of thzJ.R.A.S., S.B., contain variety of condiments (more or less re- 
further notes on the subject. sembling chutney) and eaten with curry. 




of the tree. Camphor is only found in the older 
trees, and not in all of these, and to obtain it the 
tree must be cut down and split up. There are 
certain signs which indicate when a tree contains 
camphor, one of which is the smell emitted from the 
wood when chipped. A man who is skilled in detect- 
ing the presence of camphor is called Penghulu Kapur. 1 
The camphor when taken away from the tree is washed, 
and all chips of wood and dirt carefully removed, and 
it is then sold to Chinese traders at Kwala Indau at 
prices varying according to the quality from $15 to 
$40 per katti. 

" The Camphor language consists in great part of 
words which are either Malay or of Malay origin, but 
contains, as above mentioned, a large number of 
words which are not Malay, but which are presum- 
ably remnants of the original Jakun dialects, which are 
apparently almost obsolete otherwise in the Indau and 
Sembrong districts of Johor." 2 

1 Penghulu Kapur, i.e. "Camphor 

2 " Camphor is a gum (not the pith 
or heart of wood, as Avicenna and 
some others think), which, falling into 
the pith-chamber of the wood, is ex- 
tracted thence or exudes from the 
cracks. This I saw in a table of cam- 
phor wood at a certain apothecary's, 
and in a piece of wood as thick as 
the thigh, presented to me by Gover- 
nor John Crasto, and again in a tablet 
a span broad at a merchant's. I would 
not, however, deny that it may some- 
times be deposited in the hollow of a 
tree. It is told me as a fact, that it is 
the custom that when any one who 
goes out to collect it has filled his 
gourd, if any other stronger person sees 
him with the gourd, he can kill him 
with impunity and take away the gourd, 
fortune assisting him in this. That 
which is brought from Borneo is usually 

mixed with small bits of stone, or some 
kind of gum called Chamderros, much 
like raw sugar or sawdust. But this de- 
fect is easily detected ; I know no other 
method of adulteration. For if some- 
times it is seen to be spotted with red or 
blackish dots, that is due to treatment 
with dirty or impure hands, or they may 
be caused by moisture. But this de- 
fect is easily remedied by the Indians. 
If it is tied up in a cloth and dipped 
in warm water to which soap and lime- 
juice has been added, and then care- 
fully dried in the shade, it becomes 
very white, the weight not being 
altered. I saw this done by a Hindu 
friend who entrusted me with the 
secret. . . . What they say as to all 
kinds of animals flying together to its 
shade to escape the fiercer beasts is 
fabulous. Nor is it what some, follow- 
ing Serapion, write less so, namely, 
that it is an omen of larger yields when 



The trees from which Gutta-percha is taken are 
also supposed to be inhabited by a spirit ; but this, 
the Gutta-spirit, being far less dangerous than the 
Eagle-wood spirit, fewer precautions are taken in 
dealing with it. In the invocation addressed to the 
Gutta-spirit, the petitioner asks for the boon of a 
drop of the spirit's blood, which of course is an 
indirect way of asking for the tree's sap. 

Here is a specimen of the charms used by the 
gutta-collectors : 

" Ho, Prince S'ri Bali, 
Prince S'ri Bandang, 

I wish to crave the boon of a drop of blood ; 
May the yield be better than from this notch of mine. 

(Here the speaker notches the tree.) 

"If it be not better 
You shall be a rebel unto God," etc. 1 

the sky glitters with frequent lightning, "The gratuity to be given to the 

or echoes with constant thunder. For Pawang is not fixed by law, but is 

as the island of Sumatra, which some settled beforehand on every expedition ; 

think to be Taprobane, and the adjacent also the share of the Sultan, 

regions are near the equinoctial line, " The regulations which have to be 

it follows that they are subject to con- observed when collecting camphor are 

stant thunderstorms, and for the same most strange ; for instance, those who 

cause have storms or slight showers go on the expedition are not permitted 

every day ; so camphor ought to be during the whole time of its duration 

abundant every year. From which it to wash or bathe ; they have to use a 

is clear that the thunder is neither the peculiar language, which differs from 

cause nor indication of a larger supply ordinary Malay. Compare what is 

of camphor." Garcia in the Historia known on this point of similar usages 

Aromatum (1593), quoted mJ.R.A. S., amongst the Battaks. 

S.B., No. 26, p. 37. "The collectors ha veto go on through 

"The camphor is so far considered the jungle until the hantu kapur (the 

as a barang larangan that nobody is camphor spirit), a female, appears to 

allowed to go and collect it without the Pawang in his dreams, and shows 

having a special permit from the Sultan. him the direction in which success may 

This permit is only given after the Sultan be expected." -J.R.A.S.,S.B., No. 17, 

has made sure that a good Pawang ac- pp. 1*55, 156. This account has refer- 

companies the party, a man who is able ence to Siak, in Sumatra, 

to know from the outside of a tree , y . JfA lxxxix 
whether it contains camphor or not. 


The Cocoa-nut Palm 

The following instructions to be followed by toddy- 
collectors (who tap the Cocoa-nut palm for its juice, 
which is boiled into sugar) were given me by a 
Kelantan Malay ('Che 'Abas of Klanang) : 

" When you are about to set foot against the 
base of the trunk (i.e. to start climbing) repeat these 
lines : 

" Peace be with you, O Abubakar ! 
Drowse not as you keep watch and ward in the heart of this tree 

Here climb half-way up and say : 

" Peace be with you, Little Sister, Handmaiden Bidah, 
Drowse not as you keep watch and ward in the middle of the 

Come and accompany me on my way up this tree." 

Here climb up among the leaf-stalks, lay hold of the 
central shoot, give it three shakes, and say 

" Peace be with you, Little Sister, Youngest of the Princesses, 
Drowse not as you keep watch and ward over the central shoot, 
Do you accompany me on my way down this tree." 

Now commence by bending down one of the blossom- 
sheaths, lay hold of the central shoot, and thrice 
repeat the following lines : 

" Peace be with your Highnesses, Princesses of the Shorn Hair and 

(perpetual) Distillation, 
Who are (seen) in the curve (lit. swell) and the ebbing away of 

the Blossom-sheath, 

Of the Blossom-sheath Si Gedebeh Mayang, 
Seven Princesses who are the Handmaidens of Si Mayang." 

(Here the speaker addresses the soul (or rather souls) 
of the tree.) 


Come hither, Little One, come hither, 

Come hither, Tiny One, come hither, 

Come hither, Bird, come hither, 

Come hither, Filmy One, come hither. 

Thus I bend your neck, 

Thus I roll up your hair, 

And here is an Ivory Toddy-knife to help the washing of your face. 

Here is an Ivory Toddy-knife to cut you short, 

And here is an Ivory Cup to hold under you, 

And there is an Ivory Bath that waits below for you. 

Clap your hands and splash in the Ivory Bath, 

For it is called the ' Sovereign Changing Clothes.' " l 

Rules for planting various Crops 

The following rules have an evident bearing upon 
the subject of vegetable animism. They were collected 
at Langat, in Selangor : 

The time to plant Sugar-cane is at noon : this will 
make it sweeter, by drying up the juice and leaving 
the saccharine matter. If you plant it in the early 
morning its joints will be too long, if in the middle 
of the day they will be short. 

Plant Maize with a full stomach, and let your 
dibble be thick, as this will swell the maize ear. 

For Plantains (or Bananas) you must dig a big 
hole, and the evening is the time to plant them. The 
evening is the quicker, and if planted after the evening 
meal they fill out better. 

Plant Sweet Potatoes on a starry night to ensure 
their filling out properly (by getting plenty of eyes ?) 

Plant Cucumbers and Gourds on a dark moonless 

1 These last five lines contain allu- is received. The Ivory Bath is the 

lions to the implements with which the copper in which the cocoa-nut sugar is 

Paivang does his work ; the Ivory made, the name given to it being an 

Cup is the tagok, a bamboo vessel allusion to the chemical change which 

in which the sap of the Blossom-shoot accompanies the process. 


night, to prevent them from being seen and devoured 
by fire-flies (api-api). 

Plant Cocoa - nuts when the stomach is over- 
burdened with food (kalau kita 'nak sangat beraK] ; 
run quickly and throw the cocoa-nut into the hole 
prepared for it without straightening the arm ; if you 
straighten it the fruit -stalk will break. Plant them 
in the evening, so that they may bear fruit while 
they are still near the ground. When you pick seed 
cocoa-nuts off the tree somebody should stand at the 
bottom of the tree and watch whether the " monkey- 
face " of each seed cocoa-nut, as it is thrown down, 
turns either towards himself or the base of the tree, 
or whether it looks away from both. In the former 
case the seed will be good, in the latter it is not 
worth planting. 

Plant Rice in the early morning, about five, because 
that is the hour at which infants (the Rice Soul being 
considered as an infant) get up. 

The Cultivation of Rice 

The most important contribution of the Malays 
to the animistic theory of vegetation is perhaps to be 
found in the many strange ceremonies with which 
they surround the culture of Rice. In order to 
properly understand the significance of these cere- 
monies, however, a proper understanding of the 
Malay system of rice - planting is essential, and I 
therefore quote in extenso a description of rice- 
culture, which possesses the additional interest of 
being translated from the composition of a Malay : *- 

" It is the established custom in Malacca territory 

1 Inche Muhammad Ja'far, of Malacca. 


to plant rice once a year, and the season for doing 
so generally falls about the month of Zilka'idah or 
Zilhijah. 1 

" In starting planting operations, however, the 
object is, if possible, to coincide with the season 
when the West wind blows, because at that time there 
are frequent rains, and accordingly the earth of the 
rice-field becomes soft and easy to plough. Moreover, 
in planting rice it is an invariable rule that there must 
be water in the field, in order that the rice may sprout 
properly ; though, on the other hand, if there is too 
great a depth of water the rice is sure to die. It 
has also been observed that as a rule the season of 
the West wind coincides with the fourth month 2 of 
the Chinese calendar, and sometimes also with the 
month of Zilka'idah or Zilhijah. 8 

" 2. In olden time the order of planting operations 
was as follows: First, the elders had to hold a 
consultation with the Pawang ; then the date was 
fixed ; then Maulud* prayers were read over the 
'mother-seed,' and benzoin, (incense) supplied by the 
Pawang, was burned ; then all the requisites for rice- 
planting were got ready, viz. : 

1 [In 1893 these months extended are required. This is not, of course, 
from the iyth May to the I4th July. intended to be an exhaustive descrip- 
C.O.B.] tion of the differences between the two 

2 [In 1893 from the i6th May to systems (for which there is here no 
the 1 3th June. C.O.B.] space), but merely to point out certain 

3 In what may be called the " dry " salient differences. A specimen of the 
method of planting rice (bfrhuma or charms used by the orang bOrhuma 
bMadang) the ceremonies naturally (" dry padi " planters) will be found in 
differ somewhat, as the forest has to the Appendix. The account in the text 
be felled, if not every year, at least more refers only to the wet method, which is 
often than is the case with the ' ' wet " by far the more important one, though 
system ; and the rice-seed is not sown the dry cultivation is probably the more 
in nurseries (as a rule), but either scat- ancient of the two. 

tered broadcast or planted with the 4 An account of the birth of Muham- 

dibble whilst the ground cultivated is mad which is intoned by a number of 

comparatively dry and no embankments people in the mosque. 


"(i) A strong buffalo (to pull the plough). 

(2) A plough with its appurtenances (to turn over the earth and 

the short weeds). 

(3) A harrow with its appurtenances (to level and break up 

small the clods of earth left by the plough). 

(4) A roller with its appurtenances (to knock down the long 

weeds, such as sedges, in fields that have lain fallow for 
a long while). 

(5) A wood-cutter's knife, to mend any of the implements that 

may get out of order at the time of ploughing. 

(6) A hoe to repair the embankments and level the higher 


(7) A scythe l to cut the long weeds. 

(8) And a whip to urge the buffalo on if he is lazy. 

" 3. When the proper season has arrived for begin- 
ning the work of planting, and the elders have come 
to an agreement with the Pawang, then on some 
Friday after the service in the Mosque the Penghulu 
addresses all the people there present, saying that 
on such a day of the month every one who is to 
take part in rice-cultivation must bring to the Mosque 
half a quart of grain (for ' mother-seed ') in order that 
Maulud prayers may be read over it. (At that time 
ketupats' 2 ' and lepats* are prepared for the men who 
are to read those prayers.) 

" When the Maulud prayers are over, every man 
goes down to the rice-field, if possible on the same 
day or the next one, in order to begin ploughing the 
nursery plot, that is, the plot which is near his house 
or in which he has been in the habit of sowing the 
seed every year. 

1 The tajak may perhaps be better the expressed juice of the pulp of the 
described as a (kind of) hoe than a cocoa-nut, and put into a piece of plan- 
scythe, tain leaf about two fingers long, which 

2 Two strips of cocoa-nut leaf are is then folded and the whole is steamed, 
braided into a square bag, hollow in- that is put into a pail known as kukusan, 
side, which is half filled with rice, and which is placed in a large pan contain- 
then boiled so that when cooked the ing water having a fire lighted under it 
rice fills the bag. so that the contents of the kukusan are 

3 Flour is mixed with sugar and with cooked by means of steam only. 

v SOWING 221 

" But if a man has a great number of plots, he will 
begin by ploughing half of them, and then at the end 
of the month of Zilhijah he must diligently prepare 
the nursery plot so as to be ready in about ten days' 


"4. Before sowing one must first of all lay out 
the grain, both the seed-grain and the 'mother-seed,' 
each separately, to dry. It must then be soaked in 
a vessel (a bucket or pot) for two days and two nights, 
after which it is taken out, strained and spread quite 
evenly on a mat with fresh leaves (areca-nut fronds 
are best), and every afternoon one must sprinkle water 
on it in order that the germ may quickly break 
through, which will happen probably in two days' time 
or thereabouts. 

"5. While the seed is soaking, the nursery plot 
must be carefully prepared ; that is to say, it must be 
ploughed over again, harrowed, levelled, ditched, and 
the soil allowed to settle ; the embankments must be 
mended, and the surface made smooth. When the 
germs have sprouted the seed is taken to the nursery 
plot. Benzoin supplied by the Pawang is burnt, 
and the plot sprinkled with tepong tawar. 1 Then 
a beginning is made by sowing the 'chief of the 
seed,' i.e. 'mother-seed,' in one corner of the nursery 
prepared for the purpose, and about two yards square ; 
afterwards the rest of the seed is sown all over the 
plot. It is well to sow when the plot contains plenty 
of water, so that all the germs of the seed may be 

1 Ttyong tawar consists of rice-flour dara, sipuleh, sitawar and chakar bebek 

mixed with water. A bundle is made (a small shrub) ; the end of this bundle 

of the following leaves, ribu-ribu (a is dipped into the tfpong tawar, which 

creeper), gandarusa, sfnjuang, sambar is then sprinkled about. 


uppermost, and the roots may not grow long, but may 
be pulled up easily. The time for sowing must be 
during the dark half of the month, so that the seedlings 
may be preserved from being eaten by insects? 

" Three days after the seed is sown the young shoots 
begin to rise like needles, and at that time all the 
water should be drawn off the plot ; after seven days 
they are likened to a sparrow's tail, and about the 
tenth or fifteenth day they break out into blades. At 
that period the water is again let into the plot, little by 
little, in order that the stalks of the seedlings may 
grow thick. 

" The seedlings have to remain in the nursery for at 
least forty or forty-four days from the time of sowing 
before they are sufficiently grown ; it is best to let them 
remain till they are about seventy days old. 

" 6. While the seedlings are in the nursery the other 
plots are being ploughed, one after another ; and this 
is called the first ploughing. Then the embankments 
are mended and re-formed with earth, so that the water 
in the field may not escape and leave it dry. After 
the embankments have been mended the harrowing 
begins : a start is made with the plot that was first 
ploughed (other than the nursery plot), for there the 
earth will have become soft, and the weeds being 
rotten after many days of soaking in the water will 
form a sort of manure. Each plot is so dealt with in 
its turn. Then all have to be ploughed once more 
(which is called the second ploughing) and harrowed 
again ; for the first harrowing merely breaks up the 
clods of earth, and a second is required to reduce them 
to a fine state and to kill the weeds. Most people, 
having fin.t used an iron harrow, use a wooden one 

1 The italics are mine. W. S. 


for the second harrowing, in order that the earth 
may be broken up quite fine. Their rice is sure to 
thrive better than that of people who are less careful ; 
for in rice-planting, as the saying goes, there is ' the 
plighted hope of good that is to come,' in the way of 
bodily sustenance I mean. So day by day the different 
plots are treated in the way that has been described 
in connection with the nursery plot in paragraph 5 


" 7. When the seedling rice has been in the nursery 
long enough, and the fields are clean and ready for 
planting (which will be about the month of Safar, or 
August) the seedlings are pulled up and tied together 
with strips of dried palas^ leaves into bundles of 
the size known as sachekak (i.e. the space enclosed 
by the thumb and the index finger when their 
ends meet). If the roots and blades are long 
the ends can be clipped a little, and the roots are 
then steeped in manure. This manure is made of 
buffalo bones burnt with chaff till they are thoroughly 
calcined, and then pounded fine, passed through a 
sieve and mixed with mud : that is the best kind 
of manure for rice-planting, and is known as ' stock 
manure.' (It can also be applied by merely scatter- 
ing it in the fields. In that case, after cutting off the 
ends of the blades, the seedlings are planted, and 
afterwards, when they are green again and appear to 
be thriving, the manure is scattered over the whole 
field. There are some places, too, where no manure 
at all is used because of the perennial richness of 
the soil.) 

1 Licuala paludosa, Griff, and other species. 


"Afterwards the seedlings are allowed to remain 
exposed to the air for about two nights, and then taken 
to the field to be planted. The bundles are broken 
up, and bunches of four or five plants together are 
planted at intervals of a span all over the different 
plots till all are filled up. If there are very many 
plots, ten or fifteen female labourers can be engaged 
to assist in planting, and likewise in pulling up the 
seedlings, at a wage of four cents for every hundred 


" 8. Ten days after the young rice has been trans- 
planted it recovers its fresh green colour ; in thirty 
days the young shoots come out ; in the second month 
it increases more and more, and in the third it becomes 
even all over. After three months and a half its 
growth is stayed, and in the fourth month it is styled 
bunting kechil. 

" At that stage the stalk has only five joints, and 
from that period it must be fumigated daily till the 
grain appears. 

" About the time when the stalk has six joints it is 
called bunting besar ; in forty days more the grain is 
visible here and there, and twenty days later it spreads 
everywhere. At this time all the water in the field 
must be drawn off so that the grain may ripen quickly. 
After five or six days it ripens in patches, and a few 
days later the rice is altogether ripe. 

" From the time of transplanting to the time when 
it is ripe is reckoned six months, not counting the 
days spent in ploughing and in growing it in the 
nursery, which may be a month or two, or even (if 

v REAPING 22$ 

there are many plots) as much as three months to the 
end of the ploughing. 


" 9. When one wishes to begin reaping the grain 
one must first have the Pawang's permission, and burn 
benzoin supplied by him in the field. 

" The following implements must be got ready, 
viz. : 

"(r) A small basket to hold the rice cut first, known as the 
' Soul of the Rice ' (semangat padt). 

(2) Kjari lipan 1 to put round the small basket. 

(3) A string of terap- bark to tie up the rice that is cut first. 

(4) A small stem of bamboo, of the variety known as buloh 

kasap, with a flag attached, which is to be planted in the 
small basket as a sign of the ' Soul of the Rice ' that has 
been cut first. 

(5) A small white cloth to wrap up the ' Soul of the Rice.' 

(6) An anchak 3 to hold the brasier. 

(7) A brasier, in which to burn the incense provided by the 


(8) A nail and a kind of nut, known as buah kerasf to be put 

into the anchak together with the brasier. 

" When the rice is ripe all over, one must first take 
the ' Soul ' out of all the plots of one's field. You 
choose the spot where the rice is best and where it 
is ' female ' (that is to say, where the bunch of stalks 
is big) and where there are seven joints in the stalk. 
You begin with a bunch of this kind and clip seven 
stems to be the ' soul of the rice ' ; and then you 
clip yet another handful to be the ' mother-seed ' for 

1 Jari lipan lit. centipede's feet, leaf braided into an open square shape 
i.e. a sort of fringe generally made of with cords attached to the four corners, 
plaited strips of cocoa-nut leaf. the ends of the cords being joined so 

2 Tfrap a kind of wild bread-fruit that it can be hung up. 

tree. * Buah kfras, the " Candle-nut." 

3 Strips of bamboo or fronds of palm- 


the following year. The ' Soul ' is wrapped in a white 
cloth tied with a cord of terap bark, and made into 
the shape of a little child in swaddling clothes, and 
put into the small basket. The ' mother-seed ' is put 
into another basket, and both are fumigated with 
benzoin, and then the two baskets are piled 
the one on the other and taken home, and put into 
the kepuk (the receptacle in which the rice is stored). 

" 10. One must wait three days (called \he.pantang 
tuai) before one may clip or cut any more of the rice. 
At first only one or two basketfuls of rice are cut ; the 
rice is dried in the sun, winnowed in a winnowing 
basket, and cleaned in a fanning machine, pounded to 
free it from the husk, so that it becomes beras (husked 
rice), and then boiled so that it becomes nasi (cooked 
rice), and people are invited to feast on it. 

"n. Then a bucket is made for the purpose of 
threshing the rest of the rice, and a granary built to 
keep it in while it remains in the field, and five or six 
labourers are engaged to reap and thresh it (banting)? 
Their hours of working are from 6 to 11.30 A.M., 
and all the rice they thresh they put into the granary. 

"12. If the crop is a good one a gallon of seed will 
produce a hundredfold. Each plot in a field takes 
about a gallon of seed. 

"13. When the rice has all been cut it is winnowed 
in order to get rid of the chaff, and then laid out in 
the sun till quite dry, so that it may not get mouldy if 
kept for a year. 

" Then the wages of the labourers are taken out of 
it at the rate of two gallons out of every ten. When 

1 The cut rice is beaten, by handfuls, this process is called mimbanting padi, 
against the inner edge of the bucket so a phrase here rendered by " threshing." 
that the grain falls into the bucket ; 


that is settled, if the rice is not to be sold, it is taken 
home and put into the rice-chest. 

" Whenever you want to eat of it, you take out a 
basketful at a time and dry it in the sun. Then you 
turn it in the winnowing basket, and clean it in the 
fanning machine, pound it to convert it into beras, 
and put a sufficiency of it in a pot and wash it. 
Enough water is then poured over it to cover it, 
and it is put on the kitchen fire till it is boiled and 
becomes nasi, when it can be eaten. 

"14. The custom of reaping with a sickle (sabit) and 
threshing the rice as described in paragraph 1 1 is a 
modern method, and is at present mainly practised by 
the people living in the neighbourhood of the town of 
Malacca, in order to get the work done quickly ; but 
in olden times it was not allowed, and even to this day 
the people who live in the inland parts of the territory 
of Malacca prefer to clip their rice with a tuai, 1 and 
put it into their baskets a handful at a time [i.e. without 
threshing it]. (If labourers are employed to do this 
their wage is one-tenth of the rice cut.) It takes ever 
so many days to get the work done, but the idea is 
that this method is the pious one, the ' Soul of the 
Rice ' not being disturbed thereby. A good part of 
the people hold this belief, and assert that since the 
custom of threshing the rice has been introduced, the 
crops have been much less abundant than in years 
of olden time when it was the custom to use the tuai 

"15. If a man has broad fields so that he is unable 
to plant them all by his own labour, he will often allow 
another to work them on an agreement, either of equal 

1 The tuai or pftntwai is a much (sabit) and cuts only a few ears at a 
smaller instrument than the sickle time, vide supra, p. 58. 


division of the produce (each bearing an equal share 
of the hire of a buffalo and all other expenses incidental 
to rice-planting), or of threefold division (that is, for 
example, the owner bears all expenses, in which case 
the man who does the work can get a third of the 
produce ; or the latter bears all expenses, in which 
case the owner only gets a third of the produce). Or 
again, the land can be let ; for instance, a field which 
ordinarily produces a koyan l of rice a year will fetch a 
rent of about two hundred gallons more or less. 

" 1 6. Every cultivator who does not act in accord- 
ance with the ordinance laid down in paragraphs 9 
and 10 above, will be in the same case as if he 
disregarded all the prohibitions laid down in connection 
with planting. If a man does not carry out this 
procedure he is sure to fail in the end ; his labour will 
be in vain and will not fulfil his desires, for the virtue 
of all these ordinances and prohibitions lies in the fact 
that they protect the rice, and drive away all its 
enemies, such as grubs, rats, swine, and the like." 2 

I will now deal with the ceremonies indicated in 
the foregoing article from the ceremonial point of view 


The ceremony to be observed at the sowing of the 
rice-seed was thus described to me by the Pawang 
who performed the reaping ceremony described be- 
low : 

1 A koyan, as a measure of weight, The term gantang\&s been rendered 

contains 40 pikuls= 5333 \ Ibs. here by "gallon," of which it is at 

Rather over 20 gallons (gantang) of present the legal equivalent, but the 

rice (padi) go to a pikul. native gantang had a standard varying 

The term koyan is also used as a according to locality, 

measure of capacity, in which sense it 2 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 30, pp. 297- 

contains 800 gantangs. 304. 


" First arrange four poles upon the ground, so as 
to form a rectangular frame (galang dapor), in the 
middle of the clearing. Then plant in succession at 
the four corners 

" i. A young banana- tree. 

2. A plant of lemon grass (serai}. 

3. A stem of sugar-cane (of the kind called lanjong). 

4. A plant of saffron (kunyif). 

Perform the operation carefully, so that they are all 
likely to live. 

"In the centre of the ground enclosed by the frame 
deposit a cocoa-nut shell full of water. 

" Early next morning go out and observe the omens. 
If the frame has moved aside (berkuak) ever so little, 
or if the water has been spilt, it is a bad omen. But 
if not, and if the water in the cocoa-nut shell has not 
been spilt, or if a black ant (semuf) or a white ant 
(anei-anei) is found in the water, it is a good sign. 

"When good omens have been obtained, proceed 
by planting rice-seed in seven holes with a dibble of 
satambun wood, repeating the following charm : 

" In the name of God, etc., 
Peace be with you, Prophet 'Tap, 

Here I lodge with you, my child, S'ri Gading, Gemala Gading, 1 
But within from six months to seven 
I will come and receive it back, 
Cluck, cluck, soul ! cluck, cluck, soul ! cluck, cluck, soul ! " 


The following account (by Mr. C. O. Blagden) of 
the ceremony of planting out the young rice (from the 

1 On my asking her what these and "gfniala gading" the kernel or 
names signified, the Pawang told me grain of the rice-fruit, 
that " S'ri gading" meant the husk, 


rice-nursery) appeared in the Journal of the Straits 
Asiatic Society in 1896 : 

"In agricultural operations the animistic ideas of 
the Malays are clearly apparent : thus, before the rice 
is cut a sort of ritual is performed which is known as 
puji padi, and which is regarded, apparently, as a kind 
of propitiatory service, a sort of apology to the padi 
(rice) for reaping it. The padi is usually sprinkled 
with tepong tawar (flour mixed with water) before the 
reaping is commenced, and the first lot cut is set apart 
for a ceremonial feast. 

" At planting there are also ceremonies : as a rule the 
beginning of the planting season is ushered in by a 
visit of the whole body of villagers to the most highly 
revered kramat in the neighbourhood, where the usual 
offerings are made and prayers are said. Sometimes, 
however, there is a special service known as bapua? 
consisting of a sort of mock combat, in which the 
evil spirits are believed to be expelled from the rice- 
fields by the villagers : this is not done every year, but 
once in three or four years. 

" Another occasional service of a peculiar character, 
which is not of very frequent occurrence, is the cere- 
mony which would perhaps be best described as the 
propitiation of the earth-spirit. Some years ago I 
happened, by chance, to be present at a function of this 
kind, and as its details may be of some interest as 
illustrating the wide dispersion of certain points of 
ritual, I will end these notes by giving a full descrip- 
tion of it as noted down at the time. It was in the 
month of October, and I happened to be out shooting 

1 Menangkabau and Naning pro- used as a sort of javelin in this mock 
nunciation for blrpuar. Puar is the combat. [In Selangor this mock corn- 
name of a jungle plant, said to be akin bat is called singketa. W.S.] 
to cardamom, the stem of which is 


snipe in the /0afr-fields of the village of Sebatu on a 
Sunday morning, when I was met by the Penghulu, 
the headman of the village, who asked me to leave off 
shooting for an hour or so. As I was having fair 
sport, I naturally wanted to know the reason why, so 
he explained that the noise of gunshots would irritate 
the hantu, and render unavailing the propitiatory service 
which was then about to begin. Further inquiry 
elicited the statement that the hantu in question was 
the one who presided over rice-lands and agricultural 
operations, and as I was told that there would be no 
objection to my attending the ceremony, I went there 
and then to the spot to watch the proceedings. The 
place was a square patch of grass-lawn a few yards 
wide, which had evidently for years been left untouched 
by the plough, though surrounded by many acres of 
rice-fields. On this patch a small wooden altar had 
been built : it consisted simply of a small square plat- 
form of wood or bamboo raised about three or four 
feet above the ground, each corner being supported by 
a small sapling with the leaves and branches left on it 
and overshadowing the platform, the sides of which 
appeared to face accurately towards the four cardinal 
points. To the western side was attached a small 
bamboo ladder leading from the ground to the edge of 
the platform. At the four corners of the patch of grass 
were four larger saplings planted in the ground. On 
the branches of all these trees were hung a number of 
ketupats, which are small squarish bags plaited of strips 
of the leaves of the screw-pine (mengkiiang) or some 
similar plant, like the material of which native bags 
and mats are made. A larger ketupat hung over the 
centre of the altar, and all of them were filled with a 
preparation of boiled rice. On the altar were piled up 


various cooked foods laid on plantain leaves, including 
the flesh of a goat cooked in the ordinary way, as well 
as rice and different kinds of condiments and sweet- 
meats. The Pawang was present as well as a number 
of the villagers, and soon after my arrival with the 
Penghulu the ceremony began by some of the villagers 
producing out of a bag the skin of a black male goat 
with the head and horns attached and containing the 
entrails (the flesh having been cooked and laid on the 
altar previously). A large iron nail four or five inches 
long, and thick in proportion, was placed vertically in 
a hole about two feet deep which had been dug under 
the altar, and the remains of the goat were also buried 
in it, with the head turned towards the east, the hole 
being then closed and the turf replaced. Some of the 
goat's blood, in two cocoa-nut shells (tempurong), was 
placed on the ground near the south side and south- 
west corner of the altar close to the ladder. 

" The Pawang, after assisting at these preliminaries, 
then took his stand at the west side of the altar, looking 
eastward : he covered his head, but not his face, with 
his sarong wrapped round it like a shawl, and pro- 
ceeded to light a torch, the end of which was tipped 
with incense (kemenyari). With this he touched the 
bottom of the altar platform four times. He then took 
a cup of tepong tawar and dipped in it a small bundle 
of four kinds of leaves, with which he then sprinkled 
the north-west and south-east corners of the platform. 
He then coughed three times whether this was part of 
the ritual, or a purely incidental occurrence, I am unable 
to say, as it was not practicable to stop the ceremony 
for the purpose of asking questions and again applied 
the torch under the altar and sprinkled with tepong tawar 
all the corners of it, as well as the rungs of the ladder. 


" At this stage of the proceedings four men stationed 
in the rice-field beyond the four corners of the patch 
of turf, each threw a kVtupat diagonally across to one 
another, while the rest of the assembly, headed by the 
PVnghulu, chanted the kalimak,or Muhammadan creed, 
three times. 

" Then a man holding a large bowl started from a 
point in the rice-field just outside the north side of 
the patch of turf, and went round it (first in a westerly 
direction). As he walked, he put handfuls of the rice 
into his mouth and spat or vomited them out, with 
much noise, as if to imitate violent nausea, into the 
field. He was followed closely by another who also 
held a bowl filled with pieces of raw tapioca root and 
beras bertih (rice roasted in a peculiar way), 1 which he 
threw about into the field. Both of them went right 
round the grass plot. The Pawang then took his cup 
of tepong tawar and sprinkled the anak padi, that is, 
the rice-shoots which were lying in bundles along the 
south and east sides of the altar ready for planting. 
Having sprinkled them he cut off the ends, as is usually 
done ; and after spitting to the right and to the left, he 
proceeded to plant them in the field. A number of 
others then followed his lead and planted the rest of 
the rice-plants, and then a sweetmeat made of cocoa- 
nut and sugar was handed round, and Muhammadan 
prayers were said by some duly qualified person, an 
orang 'alim or a lebei, and the ceremony was concluded. 

"It was explained to me that the blood and the food 
were intended for the Jtantu, and the ladder up to the 
altar was for his convenience ; in fact the whole affair 
was a propitiatory service, and offers curious analogies 
with the sacrificial ceremonials of some of the wild 

1 Bfras MHtfft,'" parched" rice. 


aboriginal tribes of Central India who have not been 
converted to Hinduism or Islam. That it should exist 
in a Malay community within twenty miles of the town 
of Malacca, where Muhammadanism has been estab- 
lished for about six 1 centuries, is certainly strange. Its 
obvious inconsistency with his professed religion does 
not strike the average Malay peasant at all. It is, 
however, the fact that these observances are not re- 
garded with much favour by the more strictly 
Muhammadan Malays of the towns, and especially by 
those that are partially of Arab descent. These latter 
have not much influence in country districts, but 
privately I have heard some of them express dis- 
approval of such rites and even of the ceremonies 
performed at kramats. According to them, the latter 
might be consistent with Muhammadan orthodoxy on 
the understanding that prayers were addressed solely 
to the Deity ; but the invocation of spirits or deceased 
saints and their propitiation by offerings could not be 
regarded as otherwise than polytheistic idolatry. Of 
course such a delicate distinction almost as subtle as 
that between dulia and latria in the Christian worship 
of saints is entirely beyond the average Malay mind ; 
and everything is sanctioned by immemorial custom, 
which in an agricultural population is more deeply- 
rooted than any book-learning ; so these rites are likely 
to continue for some time, and will only yield gradually 
to the spread of education. Such as they are, they seem 
to be interesting relics of an old-world superstition. 

" I have mentioned only a few such points, and only 
such as have been brought directly to my knowledge ; 
there are hosts of other quaint notions, such as the theory 

1 Five would probably be nearer the mark, but Malay chronology is very 


of lucky and unlucky days and hours, on which whole 
treatises have been written, and which regulate every 
movement of those who believe in them ; the belief in 
amulets and charms for averting all manner of evils, 
supernatural and natural ; the practice during epidemics 
of sending out to sea small elaborately constructed 
vessels which are supposed to carry off the malignant 
spirits responsible for the disease (of which I remember 
a case a few years ago in the village of Sempang, 
where the beneficial effect was most marked) ; the 
widespread belief in the power of menuju, that is, 
doing injury at a distance by magic, in which the 
Malays believe the wild junglemen especially to be 
adepts ; the belief in the efficacy of forms of words as 
love-charms and as a protection against spirits and 
wild beasts in fact, an innumerable variety of super- 
stitious ideas exist among Malays." l 


On the 28th January 1897 I witnessed (at Chodoi, 
in the Kuala Langat district of Selangor) the cere- 
mony of fetching home the Rice-soul). 

Time of Ceremony. I arrived at the house belong- 
ing to the Malay owner of the rice-field a little past 

8 A.M., the hour at which the ceremony was to take 
place having been fixed at angkat kening (about 

9 A.M.) a few days previously. On my arrival I found 
the Pawang (sorceress), an aged Selangor woman, 
seated in front of the baskets required for the cere- 
mony. 2 

1 J.R.A.S.) S.B., No. 29, pp. 7-12. her left (the big one being supposed to 

2 These were newly -plaited round contain seven, the medium size five, 
baskets, three in number, and diminish- and the smallest one three, gtmalan of 
ing in size from the Paivang's right to padf) ; they were each bound round, 


Accessories. At her extreme left stood one of the 
circular brass trays with high sides which are called 
dulang by the Malays, containing the following 
objects : 

1 . A small bowl of u parched rice " (b'ras ber'titi). 

2. A small bowl of "saffron rice" (Vras kunyif), 

3. A small bowl of " washed rice " (tfras basoK). 

4. A small bowl of " oil of frankincense." 

5. A small bowl of "oil of Celebes " (minyak Bugis\ 

6. A small bowl of " incense " (kem'nyati). 

7. A small bundle of incense (in addition to the bowl). 

8. One of the hard jungle-nuts called buah Kras (the candle-nut). 

9. One of the shells called Krang (a cockle shell). 

10. A hen's egg. 

11. A stone (a small block of quartz). 

12. A large iron nail. 

13 to 15. Three Malay reaping instruments (penuwei). 1 

Close to the dulang stood a cocoa-nut shell filled 
with the tepong tawar, which plays so prominent 
a part in Malay magic ceremonies, and a brush made 
up of the leaves of seven different plants, bound up 
as usual with a cord of kulit frap (the bark of the 
Wild Breadfruit), and ribu-ribn (a kind of small creeper). 
The plants which supplied the leaves of which the 
brush was composed, were as follows : 

i. Sapenok. 2. SapanggiL 3. Jenjuang (or len- 
juang] merah (the Red Dracaena). 4. Gandarusa. 
5. Pulut-pulut. 6. Selaguri. 7. Sambau dara (a kind 
of grass). 

But the most interesting object was a small oval- 
just under the rim, with the female wood called pompong ; the reason 
variety of the creeper called ribu-ribu given being that the pompong was 
freshly gathered that morning. the wood of which these instruments 

1 One of these was called the p?nu- were originally made, whilst what I 
wet sulong (lit. eldest rice - cutter), may call the handle of the instrument 
which was only to be used when the was made of a slip of bamboo stopped 
Pawang had done with it by the from end to end with wax. About 
owner of the rice-field, and the blade the other two penuweis there was 
of which is fitted into a piece of the nothing specially remarkable. 


shaped basket bound with the ribu-ribu creeper, 
and about fourteen inches long, which was standing 
just in front of the three rice-baskets and close to the 
Pawang, and which, as I afterwards found out, was 
intended to serve as the cradle of the Rice-soul (or 
" Rice-baby "). I examined it, however, and found 
that as yet it only contained the following objects : 

1. A strip of white cloth (folded up and lying at the bottom of 

the basket). 

2. Some parti-coloured thread (benang panchawarna or pancha- 


3. A hen's egg. 

4. One of the hard jungle-nuts (candle-nuts) already referred to. 

5. A cockle shell (k 'rang). 

6. A long iron nail. 

7. Five cubits of red cloth by means of which the soul-basket 

was to be slung round the neck of its bearer. (The cor- 
recter custom would require an expensive cloth of the 
kind called jong saraf, or the " Loaded Junk," accord- 
ing to my informant the Pawang.) 

Three new Malay skirts or sarongs were added, 
(one to each basket), and everything being ready, the 
various receptacles described above were entrusted to 
five female bearers (Penjawat), who descended from 
the house, with the Pawang at their head, and set out 
for the rice-field. Before they had gone many yards 
they were joined by the owner of the field, who walked 
in front of them bearing what was called ti\z junjongan 
padi. This was the stem and leaves of a dark red 
kind of sugar-cane, which was used in substitution 
for the black or " raven " variety (tebu gagaK] which, 
the Pawang explained, would have been used in pre- 
ference if it had been obtainable. Meanwhile the 
procession passed on, and the Pawang repeated as 
we went the following prayer to the spirits : 


" In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, 
Peace be with thee, O Prophet 'Tap, in whose charge is the Earth, 
I know the origin of the Rice, S'ri Gading, Gemala Gading, 
That (dwelleth at) the end of the clearing, and that (dwelleth at) 

the beginning (top) of the clearing ; 
That is scattered broadcast, that is cast headlong, 
That is over-run (!) by the ants called Silambada. 
Ho, Dang 'Pok, Dang Meleni, 1 (and) 
Dang Salamat, who carriest the pole slung on thy back, 
Gather together and press hitherwards your attendants. 
May safety and our daily bread be granted us by God." 

On reaching the rice the procession filed through 
a lane already made in the rice, until the "mother- 
sheaf" was reached from which the Rice-soul was to 
be taken. But immediately on arriving at the spot, 
and before depositing the rice-baskets on the ground, 
the Pawang repeated these lines : 

" Herons from all this region, 
Roost ye upon the shaft of my bow ; 
Retire ye, O Spectral Reapers, 
That we may deposit our baskets upon the ground." 

Here the baskets were deposited, and the Pawang 

1 These are the names of two girls fire. Then said Ampu to Malin, 

mentioned in the "Malay Annals" ' What is that light which is so brilliant ? 

(Sejarah Malayu) to whose rice there I am frightened to look at it.' 'Make 

happened a strange phenomenon. The no noise,' said Malin, 'it is some great 

following is Leyden's translation (in snake or naga.' 1 Then they both lay 

which the names appear as Ampu and quiet for fear. When it was daylight 

Malin). " The name of its (the country they arose and went to see what it was 

of Palembang's) river was Muartatang shone so bright during the night. They 

(Muartenang ?) into which falls another both ascended the hill, and found the 

river named Sungey Malayu (Malay grain of the rice converted into gold, 

River), near the source of which is a the leaves into silver, and the stalks 

mountain named the mountain Sagan- into brass, and they were extremely 

tang Maha Miru (v. p. 2, supra). There surprised, and said, ' This is what we 

were two young women of Belidung, observed during the night.' " The 

the one named Wan-Ampu, and the account proceeds to show how the 

other Wan-Malin, employed in culti- prodigy was due to a supernatural visit 

vating rice on this mountain, where from a descendant of Raja Secander 

they had large and productive rice- Zulkarneini. Leyden, Mai. Ann., 

grounds. One night they beheld their pp. 20, 21. The words in brackets 

rice-fields gleaming and glittering like are mine. 


took up her station in front of the mother-sheaf, of 
which mention has just been made. 

Covering her head with a flowing white cloth of 
which the ends fell upon her shoulders, the Pawang 
now stood up facing the sheaf, and waved the ends of 
this cloth thrice upward to the right, thrice upward to 
the left, and finally thrice upward to the right again. 
Then for a few moments she stood still, close to the 
sheaf with her head bent forward and buried among 
the ears, after which she reseated herself and dabbled 
the tepong tawar thrice upon the roots of the sheaf. 
One of the female bearers now planted the stem of the 
sugar-cane upright in the centre of the sheaf, 1 whilst 
the Pawang sprinkled it with the tepong tawar, 
and then holding the sharpened end of it over the 
incense, fumigated it, saying : 

" Peace be with thee, O Prophet 'Tap ! 
Lo, I plant this Sugar-cane 
For you to lean against, 

Since I am about to take away this Soul of yours, S'ri Gading, 
And carry it home to your palace, 
Cluck, cluck, soul ! cluck, cluck, soul ! cluck, cluck, soul ! " 

Here the Pawang and Penjawat (Female Bearer), 
together proceeded to plant the sugar-cane in the 
centre of the sheaf, and (pressing the sheaf more tightly 
round the sugar-cane) drew the waist of the sheaf 
together and belted it with some of the outer stems of 
the sheaf itself ; then the Pawang applied the tepong 

1 Whilst drawing together the heads " Cluck, cluck, soul of S'ri Gading, Gemala 
r the sheaf before actually planting This^emof yours is molten silver, 
tie sugar-cane in the ground, the Your leaves are copper overlaid, 
allowing lines were repeated by the Your stalk is gold, 
o Your gram is fine gold. 

I have not been able to discover what 

slmansat^riGading&malaGadinsl >mas "*&** means, as the Pawang 
Batane-' kau perak bfrtuanf could not explain it (though she insisted 

3&*SteS&'~*~*-' ? at . u was right >' and u is not in an >' 

(sic). dictionary. 


tawar once more to the sheaf, and after fumigating it 
in the usual manner, ran her hands up it. Next she 
took in one hand (out of the brass tray) the stone and 
the egg, cockle-shell and candle-nut, and with the other 
planted the big iron nail in the centre of the sheaf close 
to the foot of the sugar-cane. Then she took in her 
left hand the cord of tree-bark, and after fumigating it, 
together with all the vessels of rice and oil, took up 
some of the rice and strewed it round about the sheaf, 
and then tossed the remainder thrice upwards, some 
of it falling upon the rest of the company and myself. 

This done, she took the end of the cord in both 
hands, and encircling the sheaf with it near the ground, 
drew it slowly upward to the waist of the sheaf, and 
tied it there, after repeating what is called the " Ten 
Prayers" (do'a sapulofi] without once taking breath: 

" The first, is God, 
The second, is Muhammad, 
The third, Holy Water of the five Hours of Prayer by Day and 


The fourth, is Pancha Indra, 
The fifth, the Open Door of Daily Bread, 
The sixth, the Seven Stories of the Palace-Tower, 
The seventh, the Open Door of the Rice-sifting Platform, 
The eighth, the Open Door of Paradise, 
The ninth, is the Child in its Mother's Womb, 
The tenth, is the Child created by God, the reason of its creation 

being our Lord. 
Grant this, 'Isa ! x 
Grant this, Moses ! 
Grant this, Joseph ! 
Grant this, David ! 
Grant me, from God (the opening of) all the doors of my daily 

bread, on earth, and in heaven." 

This prayer completed, 2 she dug up with the great 

1 The Muhammadan name for the part of the ceremony (which is called 
Founder of Christianity. chZrangkan tali frap] omens are taken 

2 During the performance of this as to the prosperity or otherwise of the 


toe of the left foot a small lump of soil, and picking it 
up, deposited it in the centre of the sheaf. 

Next she took the contents of the soul-basket (the 
egg and stone, candle-nut and shell as before), and 
after anointing them with oil and fumigating them, 
replaced them in the basket; then taking faepenuwei 
sulong ("Eldest Rice-cutter"), anointed the blade 
with the oil of frankincense, and inserting the thumb 
of the right hand into her mouth, pressed it for several 
moments against the roof of her palate. On with- 
drawing it she proceeded to cut the first seven " heads " 
of rice, repeating " the Ten Prayers " as she did so. 
Then she put the seven " heads " together, and kissed 
them ; turned up the whites of her eyes thrice, and 
thrice contracting the muscles of her throat with a sort 
of "click," swallowed the water in her mouth. 1 Next 
she drew the small white cloth which she took from 
the soul-basket for the purpose across her lap, and 

people of the house, and the observa- if you want it to be a little rough 

tions have therefore to be made with (k&at), so that you may not be tempted 

the greatest care. The most disastrous to eat too much of it during hard times, 

omen is the cawing of a crow or rook ; instead of directly swallowing the water 

next to this (in point of disastrous sig- in your mouth, you must put the tip of 

nificance) comes the mewing cry of the your tongue to the roof of your mouth, 

kite, and, thirdly, the flight of the and contract the throat thrice, slowly 

ground-dove (tPkukur). A good omen swallowing as you do so." To the 

is the flight of the bird called the Rice's above she then added : " Besides this, 

Husband (LakiPadi), but the best omen you can make the whole field of rice 

is the absence of any portent or sound, break into waves by standing up, 

even such as the falling of a tree, the clapping the hands, and then pushing 

crackling of a branch, or a shout in the each hand right up the sleeve of the 

distance, all of which are harbingers of opposite arm (I am not quite sure if I 

misfortune of some sort. rightly understood this last, but am 

1 The Pawang said to me after- fairly certain that it is correct my 

wards, when I questioned her about notes have only ' run the hands up the 

this, " If you want your husked rice to arms '), saying as you do so : 

be white and smooth (puteh lanchap\ , , ., 

fl " Al-saZam 'aleikum. 

you must stand up facing the sun at Waman ivamat, 

nine o'clock (angkat kfning, lit. ' Raise Paku i, a ?" ai >' 

the eyebrow '), turn up the whites of 

your eyes, swallow the water in your This will swell the grains, and prevent 

mouth, and your rice will be smooth them from getting empty (minching, 

and white and easily swallowed. But jangan banyak hampd)." 


laying the little bundle of seven ears in it, anointed 
them with oil and tied them round with parti-coloured 
thread (benang panchawarna), after which she fumi- 
gated them with the incense, and strewing rice of each 
kind over them, folded the ends of the cloth over 
them, and deposited them as before in the basket, 
which was handed to the first bearer. Then standing 
up, she strewed more rice over the sheaf, and tossing 
some backwards over her head, threw the remainder 
over the rest of the party, saying " tabek " ("pardon") as 
she did so, and exclaiming " kur semangat, kur seman- 
gat, kur semangat /" (" cluck, cluck, soul ! ") in a loud 
voice. Next she pushed the cocoa-nut shell (which 
had contained the tepong tawar) into the middle of the 
sheaf, and removed all traces of the lane which had 
been trodden round the sheaf (to make it accessible) 
by bending down the surrounding ears of rice until the 
gap was concealed. 

Then the First Bearer, slinging the basket of the 
Rice-child about her neck (by means of the red cloth 
before referred to), took an umbrella l from one of the 
party, and opened it to shield the Rice-child from the 
effects of the sun, and when the Pawang had reseated 
herself and repeated an Arabic prayer (standing erect 
again at the end of it with her hands clasped above 
her head), this part of the ceremony came to an end. 
Moving on to another part of the field, the Pawang 
now cut the next seven " heads " and deposited them 
in one of the three rice-baskets, which she then handed 
to one of the female bearers, telling her and her two 
companions to reap the field in parallel straight lines 

1 This umbrella had been forgotten, house to fetch it ; as without it, I was 
and we were compelled to wait while told, the Rice -child could not be 
one of the "bearers" returned to the escorted home. 


facing the sun, until they had filled the three rice- 
baskets, after which they were to return to the house. 
Leaving the three reapers at their task, I followed the 
Pawang and Eldest Bearer (the latter still shielding 
the Rice-child from the sun with the umbrella) and 
arrived in time to witness the reception of the party 
as they reached the foot of the house-ladder. Here 
(on the threshold) we were met by the wife of the 
owner, and other women of his family, the former 
thrice calling out as we approached, "Apakkobarf" 
("What news?"), and thrice receiving the reply, "Baik" 
(" It is well"). On receiving this reply for the third 
time she threw saffron -rice over the Pawang and 
repeated these lines : 

" Chop the ' tree ' Galenggang (a kind of shrub), 
Chop it to pieces in front of the door : 
Yonder comes One swinging (her) arms ; 
That (methinks) is a child of mine." 

To which the Pawang immediately replied : 

" Chop the young bamboo-shoots as fine as you can, 
If you wish to stupefy the fish in the main stream. 
In good sooth I have crossed the stream, 
For great was my desire to come hither." 

And the bearer of the Rice-child added doubtless 
on the Rice-child's behalf: 

" This measure is not a measure filled with pepper, 
But a measure filled with rice-husks. 
My coming is not merely fortuitous, 
But great (rather) was my desire, the wish of my heart." 

She then entered the house and laid the Rice-child 
(still in its basket) on a new sleeping-mat with pillows 
at the head. About twenty minutes later the three 


Bearers returned, 1 each of their rice-baskets covered 
with a sarong. These baskets were carried into the 
bedroom and deposited in order of size on the mat at 
the foot of the soul-basket, the largest basket being 
the nearest to the soul-basket. Finally, the Pawang 
removed the sarongs which covered each basket and 
deposited them on the Rice-child's pillow, and sticking 
the "penuweis " into her hair, fumigated the entire row 
of baskets and the Rice-child, and covered them over 
with the long white cloth, after which the wife of the 
master of the house was told to observe certain rules 
of taboo for three days. 

The following were the taboos imposed upon her : 

1. Money, rice, salt, oil, tame animals, etc., were forbidden to 

leave the house, though they might enter it without ill 

2. Perfect quiet must be observed, as in the case of a new-born 


3. Hair might not be cut. 

4. The reapers, till the end of the reaping, were forbidden to let 

their shadows fall upon the rice. ( Yang menuwei sampei 
habis menuwei, tiada buleh menindeh bayang.} 

5. The light placed near the head of the Rice-child's bed might 

not be allowed to go out at night, whilst the hearth -fire 
might not be allowed to go out at all, night or day, for 
the whole three days. 

The above taboos are in many respects identical 
with those which have to be observed for three days 
after the birth of a real child. 

1 I was told by the Pawang that "Al-salam'aleikum,nal>rTa.p,jmtigmemeg- 
... i , i /.,! j anerkan bumil 

when the three reapers had each filled Tetapkan anak aku, 

her basket, each of them tied the Janga.nrosak,janganbinasaka.n 

leaves of the rice clumps together, %*/$$'"***" 

and dug up a lump of earth with 

the great toe of the left foot, and in- " Peace be with you, Prophet 'Tap, in whose 

. , , _..!. -j .. r charge is the earth, 

sertmg the lump into the midst ^ of Confirm this my child, 
each clump, repeated the following Do it no harm or scathe, 

j But remove it far from Demons and Devils, 

woras : By virtue of> .. etc 


'5)2 S 

I S a 


="n = 
5 w 

8 1 ? 

' * 



5 *" U 

v *v rt 


bjo-S 3 
| i j 

O j - 
X K U 
* -^ - 



I may add that every day, when the reapers start 
their reaping, they have to repeat the following 
charm : 

" A swallow has fallen, striking the ground, 
Striking the ground in the middle of our house-yard; 
But ye, O Shadows and Spectral Reapers, 
See that ye mingle not with us." 

When reaping, they must cover their heads and must 
face the sun, no matter what hour of the day it is, in 
order to prevent their own shadows from falling upon 
the rice in the basket at their side. 

Pounding the first of the padi. I witnessed this 
ceremony three days later, at about 9 A.M. The three 
baskets filled with the first reapings were removed 
from the mat on which they had been placed, and their 
contents emptied out upon a new mat, to each corner 
of which four rice-ears were tied, and trodden out (di- 
irekkari) by the owner of the field. Then the rice 
was poured back into two of the baskets, and the straw 
of the rice " heads " was plaited into a wreath. 1 

Drying the first of the padi. Preparations being 
complete, the two baskets full of newly-cut rice were 
carried down the steps and out to an open part of the 
field, a little way from the house, and there spread on 
a mat in the sun to dry. To spread it properly is not 
an easy matter, the operator (who in this case was the 
owner), standing on the mat and spreading the grains 
with a long sweeping motion of the hand from one 
side of the mat to the other (the process being called 
di-kekar, di-kachau, or membalikkan jemoran). In 

1 A cat having given birth to kittens rule that if there was nobody else who 

the night before the ceremony, I was could bear children at the time, God 

told by the Pawang that it was a very was wont to substitute a cat (nifnggan~ 

good sign, and that it was a known tikan tucking). 


the present case several objects were placed in the 
centre of the mat, consisting of 

1. A basket-work stand (one of those used for the cooking-pots, 

and called lekar jantari). 

2. A bowl of water deposited upon this stand and intended 

" for the Rice-soul (semangat padi) to drink when it 
becomes thirsty with the heat of the sun." 

3. A big iron nail. 

4. A candle-nut (buah Kras). 

5. Six trodden-out rice " heads," a couple of which tied in a 

slip knot (simpul puliK) are fastened to each corner of the 

Pounding of the rice from the three baskets. When 
the rice had been sufficiently dried, it was once more 
collected in the baskets, and carried back to the house 
to be pounded. 1 That operation took place the same 
evening, when the rice was pounded and winnowed 2 
in the ordinary way, the only noteworthy addition 
being the tying of bunches of the grass called sambau 
dara to the upper ends of the long wooden pestles 
which the Malays use for the pounding operation. 

Disposal of the empty rice-stalks from the three 
baskets. The chaff thus obtained was deposited in a 
heap by the owner of the field in a place where three 
paths met, crowned with a wreath made of the empty 
rice-stalks, and covered by a big stone which was in- 
tended, I was told, to keep it from being blown away. 

The sugar-cane was left to grow in the midst of 
the mother-sheaf, until the latter should be reaped by 
the wife of the owner; when this takes place, it is 
carried back to the house and used for next year's 
reaping. Meanwhile the " heads " of the mother-sheaf 

1 The drying usually takes longer, 2 Nothing of the male sex may stand 

but the exceptional heat of the sun on or sit opposite the point of the sieve 

the day in question enabled the opera- (nyiru) during this winnowing, 
tion to be hastened. 


are pounded, and the grain thus obtained is mixed 
with the grain obtained from the Rice-soul, and de- 
posited in the rice-bin (ktpok] together with a stone, a 
lump of rosin (damar\ and a wreath composed of the 
empty rice-ears. I may add that I saw the articles 
which had been deposited in the previous year in the 
rice-bin of the Malay at whose house I witnessed the 
ceremony which I have just described. 

I did not witness the preliminary search for the 
mother-sheaf (in which the Rice-soul was supposed to 
be contained), but it was described to me by the 
Pawang, and performed for my benefit by the people 
of the house. The Pawang s description ran as follows : 
In order to confine the " Rengkesa " (a Spectral 
Reaper) to the boundaries, visit the four corners of 
the field, and at each corner tie a knot in a rice-leaf, 
and hold your breath while you repeat the following 
charm : 

" In the name of God, etc., 
A swallow has fallen striking the ground, 
Striking the ground in the middle of our house-yard. 
But ye, O Shadows and Spectral Reapers (Rngkesa), 
Have your appointed place on the Boundaries (of this field). 
By virtue of," etc. 

These noxious spirits being thus confined to the 
Four Corners, you may search in safety till you find 
one of the special varieties of rice-ear in which the 
Rice-soul resides. 

There are several varieties, of which the best is 
called Tongkat Mandah; it may be described as an 
ordinary "rice-head" bending over to meet the tip of 
second (adventitious) "rice-head," but it is produced 
only by a freak of nature. There is some risk con- 
nected with this variety, however, for if the "Reception 


(Sambut) Ceremony " is not properly performed 
the owner will die. The second best is called " The 
Kite" (Lang). The third best is called "The Veiled 
Princess " (Putri Bertudong] ; in this case the sheath 
of the "head" is of unusual length, and overshadows 
the "head" itself. A fourth kind is called Padi Bertel- 
'kum, and is described as a " Female Rice " (padi 
betina) ; like the " Veiled Princess," it has an unusually 
well-developed sheath ; whilst a fifth kind is the " Padi 
Mendhara " a rice-plant whose leaves show white 
lines or markings. 

How women should reap on ordinary occasions. 
Whenever women go out to reap they should 
repeat certain charms before leaving the house, 1 and 
again before depositing their baskets on the ground. 
Their heads should be covered, and they should 
always be careful to reap, as has been said, facing 
the sun, to prevent their shadow from falling upon 
the rice in the basket at their side. Occasionally, 
however, the body is uncovered, and I was even 
told of one, Inche Fatimah of Jugra, in Selangor, 
who when reaping stripped herself bare from the 
waist upwards, and when asked why she did so said 
it was "to make the rice-husks thinner, as she was 
tired of pounding thick-husked rice." 

The sheaf which is left standing after the taking 
home of the Rice-soul is called the Mother of the 
Rice-soul (Ibu Semangat Padi], and treated as a 
newly-made mother ; that is to say, young shoots of 
trees (putik-putik kayu) are taken, pounded together 

1 The charms are the same as those tion discernible between the first and 

given supra, viz. "A swallow has the second half of the quatrain; the 

fallen," etc., and " Herons from all this latter always contains the actual point, 

region." They are in the/ata form, the former at most something analogous 

and accordingly there is little connec- or remotely parallel. 


(di-tumbok), and scattered broadcast (di-tabor) every 
evening for three successive days. 

When the three days are up you take cocoa-nut 
pulp (isi niyor) and what are called " goat flowers " 
(bunga kambing), mix them, and eat them with a 
little sugar, spitting some of the mixture out among 
the rice. [So, after a birth (as the Pawang informed 
me), the young shoots of the jack -fruit (kababal 
nangka), the rose -apple (jambu), and certain kinds 
of banana (such as pisang abu and pisang Benggala), 
and the thin pulp of young cocoa-nuts (kelongkong 
niyor) are mixed with dried fish, salt, acid (asam), 
prawn -condiment (tflachan), and similar ingredients, 
to form a species of salad (rojak\ For three suc- 
cessive days this salad is administered to mother and 
child, the person who administers it saying, if the child 
be a girl, " Your mother is here, eat this salad," and if 
the child be a boy, " Your father is here, eat this salad."] 

Invariably, too, when you enter the rice-clearing 
(menempoh ladang) you must kiss the rice - stalks 
(chium tangkei padt), saying, " Cluck, cluck, soul of 
my child!" (kur, semangat anak akuf} just as if you 
were kissing an infant of your own. 

The last sheaf (as I think I have said) is reaped 
by the wife of the owner, who carries it back to the 
house (where it is threshed out and mixed with the 
Rice-soul). The owner then takes the Rice-soul and 
its basket and deposits it in the big circular rice-bin 
used by the Malays, together with the product of the 
last sheaf. Some of the product of the first seven 
" heads " will be mixed with next year's seed, and 
the rest will be mixed with next year's tepong tawar? 

1 The extreme voluminousness of rice-planting makes it impossible to 
Malay folk-lore upon the subject of do more than give a general idea 



In the Western States of the Peninsula by far the 
most important branch of industry has for many years 
been that of Tin-mining. Though something like 90 
per cent of the labourers employed in the mines are 
Chinese, the ceremonies used at the opening of tin- 
mines are purely Malay in character. 

The post of mining wizard, once a highly lucrative 
one, was in past days almost always filled by a Malay, 
though occasionally the services of a Jungle -man 
(Sakai) would be preferred. These mining wizards 
enjoyed in their palmy days an extraordinary reputa- 
tion, some of them being credited with the power of 
bringing ore to a place where it was known that no 
ore existed ; some, too, were believed to possess the 
power of sterilising such ore as existed, and of turning 
it into mere grains of sand. 

The ore itself is regarded as endued not only with 
vitality, but also with the power of growth, ore of 
indifferent quality being regarded as too young (muda], 
but as likely to improve with age. Sometimes, again, 
it is described as resembling a buffalo, in which shape 
it is believed to make its way from place to place 
underground. This idea, however, is probably based 
upon traditions of a lode, though it is quite in keeping 

of the ceremonies described. The details. One of these invocations 

ceremonies, however, are comparatively should certainly help to emphasise the 

homogeneous in all parts of the Penin- strength of the anthropomorphic concep- 

sula, and the specimens given may be tion of the Rice-soul as held by Malays, 

taken as fairly representative. In the It runs as follows (vide App. ex.) : 
Appendix (xciii. seqq.}, will be found a "Cluck, cluck, soul of my child ! 

number of invocations, collected by Come and return home with me, 

_,_. '. ... ' Our agreement has reached its term. 

Mr. O Sullivan and myself, which are Let not the Heat afflict you, 

addressed to the rice-spirit and may help Let not the Wind afflict you. 

to emphasise or explain some of the ^ aot l^jj 


with Malay ideas about the spirits residing in other 
minerals, the Gold spirit being supposed to take the 
shape of a kijang or roe-deer (whence the tradition 
of a golden roe-deer being found at Raub in Pahang). 

In connection with the subject of tin-mining the 
account contributed l in 1885 by Mr. Abraham Hale 
(then Inspector of Mines in the Kinta district of 
Perak) to the Journal of the Straits Asiatic Society is of 
such value as to necessitate its being quoted in extenso. 
It will be followed by such notes upon mining invoca- 
tions as I was able to collect in Selangor, after which 
a few remarks upon the Malay theory of animism in 
minerals generally will bring the subject to a conclusion. 

To commence with Mr. Male's account: "The 
valley of the Kinta is, and has been for a very long 
time, essentially a mining country. There are in the 
district nearly five hundred registered mines, of which 
three are worked by European Companies, the rest 
being either private mines, i.e. mines claimed by 
Malays, which have been worked by them and their 
ancestors for an indefinite period, or new mines, in 
other words new concessions given indifferently on 
application to Malays and Chinese. There are about 
three hundred and fifty private Malay mines, and it is 
with these principally that the following paper will 

"So far, no lodes have been discovered in Kinta ; 
it is, however, probable that, as the country is opened 
up and prospectors get up amongst the spurs of the 
main range, the sources of the stream tin will come to 

" Mining in Kinta, like mining in Larut, is for 
stream tin, and this is found literally everywhere in 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B. t No. 16, pp. 303-320. 


Kinta ; it is washed out of the sand in the river-beds 
a very favourite employment with Mandheling women ; 
Kinta natives do not affect it much, although there is 
more than one stream where a good worker can earn a 
dollar per day ; it is mined for in the valley, and sluiced 
for on the sides of hills ; and, lastly, a very suggestive 
fact to a geologist, it has been found on the tops of 
isolated limestone bluffs and in the caves l which some 
of them contain. 

" This stream tin has probably been worked for 
several centuries in Kinta ; local tradition says that a 
very long time ago Siamese were the principal miners, 
and there is evidence that very extensive work has 
been done here by somebody at a time when the 
method was different from that which is commonly 
adopted by Kinta Malays at the present day. There 
are at least fifty deep well-like pits on the Lahat hill, 
averaging about eight feet in diameter and perhaps 
twenty feet deep. 

" Further up country I have seen a large pit which 
the natives called a Siamese mine ; this is about fifty 
feet in diameter and over twenty feet deep, and its age 
may be conjectured from the virgin forest in which it 
is situated. Besides these, at many places extensive 
workings are continually brought to light as the country 
is opened up, and these appear to have been left un- 
disturbed for at least a hundred years. Further evidence 
of old work is furnished by slabs of tin of a shape 
unlike that which has been used in Perak in the 
memory of living persons ; and only a few weeks ago 
two very perfect ' curry stones ' of an unusual shape 
and particularly sharp grit were found at a depth of 

1 Report on the Geology and Perak, by Rev. J. E. Tennison-Wood, 
Physical Geography of the State of F.G.S., F.L.S., etc. 


eight feet in natural drift. These may, perhaps, have 
been used to grind grain. 

" So peculiarly is Kinta a mining district, that even 
the Sakais of the hills do a little mining to get some 
tin sand wherewith to buy the choppers and sarongs 
which the Malays sell to them at an exorbitant 

"The Malay pawang, or medicine-man, is probably 
the inheritor of various remnants and traditions of the 
religion which preceded Muhammadanism, and in 
the olden time this class of persons derived a very 
fair revenue from the exercise of their profession, in 
propitiating and scaring those spirits who have to do 
with mines and miners ; even now, although the Malay 
pawang may squeeze a hundred or perhaps two hundred 
dollars out of the Chinese towkay l who comes to mine 
for tin in Malaya, the money is not perhaps badly 
invested, for the Chinaman is no prospector, whereas 
a good Malay pawang has a wonderful ' nose ' for tin, 
and it may be assumed that the Chinese towkay and, 
before his time, the Malay miner, would not pay a tax 
to the pawang unless they had some ground for believ- 
ing that, by employing him and working under his 
advice, there would be more chance of success than if 
they worked only on their own responsibility. 

" The pawang being a person who claims to have 
powers of divination and other imperfectly understood 
attributes, endeavours to shroud his whole profession 
in more or less of mystery. In his vocabulary, as in 
that of the gutta-hunters, special terms are used to 
signify particular objects, the use of the ordinary words 
being dropped ; this is called ' bahdsa pantang. ' " 

1 The mining contractor, also called towkay lombong and towkay labur, 
vide infra. * Lit. " Taboo language. " 


" The following are some of the special terms 
alluded to : 

"Ber-olak tinggi? instead of gajah elephant. 
The elephant is not allowed on the mine, or must not 
be brought on to the actual works, for fear of damage 
to the numerous races and dams ; to name him, there- 
fore, would displease the spirits (kantu). 

" Ber-olak ddpor, instead of kuching cat. Cats are 
not allowed on mines, nor may the name be mentioned. 

" A tiger of enormous size called Ber-olak is said to 
haunt Kinta. The legend about him is as follows : 
A long time ago, in the pre-Muhammadan days, a man 
caught a tiger kitten and took it home ; it grew up 
quite tame and lived with the man until he died, when 
it returned to the jungle and grew to an enormous size, 
nine cubits (hasta] long ; it is still there, though nobody 
ever sees it ; it does no harm, but sometimes very large 
tracks are seen, and men hear its roar, which is so loud 
that it can be heard from Chemor to Batu Gajah ; 
when heard in the dry season, it is a sure prognostica- 
tion of rain in fifteen days' time. 

" Sial? instead of kerbau water-buffalo. The 
buffalo is not allowed on the mine for the same reason 
as the elephant. 

" Salah nama? instead of limau nipis lime (fruit). 
If limes are brought on to a mine, the hantu (spirits) 
are said to be offended ; the particular feature of the 
fruit, which is distasteful, appears to be its acidity. It 

1 Bfrolak here means to " turn 2 Sial means literally anything 

one's self about, "and the whole phrase which brings bad luck; so perhaps 

would mean " The Tall One that Turns we might translate it "Mr. Bad- 

Himself about" perhaps the "Tall luck." 

Loafer " would be as near as we can 3 Salah nama means " Wrong 

get to it in English. So, too, her- name " (Misnomer) ; limau nipis, lit. 

olak dapor means "The Kitchen means "thin lime." 
Loafer " (Loafer of the Kitchen). 


is peculiar that Chinese have this superstition con- 
cerning limes as well as Malays ; not very long ago a 
Chinese towkay of a mine complained that the men of 
a rival kongsi 1 had brought limes and squeezed the 
juice into his head race, and, furthermore, had rubbed 
their bodies with the juice mixed with water out of his 
head race, and he said they had committed a very 
grave offence, and asked that they might be punished 
for it. 

" With Malays this appears to be one of the most 
important pantang' rules, and to such a length is it 
carried that belachan (shrimp-paste) is not allowed 
to be brought on to a mine for fear it should induce 
people to bring limes as well, lime-juice being a 
necessary adjunct to belachan when prepared for eating. 

" Buah rumput? or bunga rumput, instead of biji 
tin sand. 

" Akar, or akar hidop? instead of ular snake. 

" Kunyit? instead of lipan centipede. 

" Batu puteh? instead of timah metallic tin. 

"It was important that the Pawang should be a 
marked man as to personal appearance ; for this reason 
there are certain positions of the body which may be 
assumed by him only when on the mine. These 
attitudes are first, standing with the hands clasped 
behind the back ; and, secondly, with the hands resting 
on the hips. This second position is assumed when he 
is engaged in ' invocating ' the ' spirits ' of a mine ; 
the pawang takes his station in front of ti\z genggulang? 

1 Kongsi, i.e. "company, firm, 6 Kunyit means "saffron." The 

gang." allusion is not evident. 

" Pantang) i.e. "taboo." a Batu puteh means " white stone" 

3 Buah rumpnt means "Grass- or "white rock." 

seed ;" Bunga rumput, " Grass-flower. " " Gettggulang, explained by Mr. 

4 Akar hidop, lit. "live creeper." Hale as meaning " altar," vide p. 260, 
The allusion is obvious. infra. 

2 5 6 


having a long piece of white cloth in his right hand, 
which he waves backwards and forwards over his 
shoulder three times, each time calling the special 
hantu whom he wishes to propitiate, by name ; whilst 
engaged in this invocation his left hand rests on his 

o o 

hip. During the performance of any professional duty 
he is also invariably dressed in a black coat ; this 
nobody but ti\z. pawang is allowed to wear on a mine. 
These attitudes and the black coat comprise what is 
technically termed \h& pakei pawang. 

" The professional duty of the pawang of a mine 
consists in carrying out certain ceremonies, for which 
he is entitled to collect the customary fees, and in 
enforcing certain rules for the breach of which he levies 
the customary fines. 1 

" At the time of the opening of a mine he has to 
erect a genggulang? and to call upon the tutelary 

1 About 1878, the principal 
pawang of the Larut district, one 
Pa'Itam Dam, applied to me as Assist- 
ant-Resident to reinstate him in the 
duties and privileges which he had en- 
joyed under the Orang Kaya Mantri, 
and before him, under Che Long J'affar. 
He describes the customary ceremonies 
and dues to be as follows : He had to 
visit all the mines from time to time, 
especially those from which tin-ore was 
being removed ; if the daily output of 
tin suddenly decreased on any mine it 
was his business at once to repeat 
certain invocations (puja} to induce the 
tin-ore to remain (handak di-pulih balik 
sapaya jangan mengorang bijf). Once 
in every two or three years it was 
necessary to carry out an important 
ceremony {puja besar} which involved 
the slaying of three buffaloes and a 
great feast, the expense of which had 
to be borne by the pawang. On the 
day of the puja besar strict abstinence 
from work is enjoined on every one in 
the district, no one might break ground 

or even pull up weeds or cut wood in 
the whole province. Further, no 
stranger whose home was three days' 
journey away might enter one of the 
mines under a penalty of twenty-five 

The pawang was entitled to exact 
from the owners of mines a custom- 
ary payment of one slab of tin (or 
$6.25 in cash) per annum for every 
sluice-box (palong) in work during the 

In any mine from which the tin-ore 
had not yet been removed it was strictly 
forbidden to wear shoes or to carry an 
umbrella ; no Malay might wear a 

The Chinese miners, always super- 
stitiously disposed, used (under Malay 
rule) to adhere to these rules and sub- 
mit to these exactions, but since 1875 
the pawang has found his occupation 
and income, in Larut at all events, 
gone. Ed././?. A.S., S.B. 

2 Altar. 


hantu of the locality to assist in the enterprise. The 
fee for this is one bag (karong] of tin sand. 

"At the request of the miners, instead of a geng- 
gnlang a kapala nasi 1 may be erected, as cheaper and 
more expeditious. The fee is one gantang 2 of tin sand. 

41 He also assists in the ceremony of hanging the 
ancha 3 in the smelting-house ; his principal associate 
in this is the Panglima Klian, who draws the ancha 
up to its proper position close under the attaps. 

" i. Raw cotton must not be brought on to a 
mine in any shape, either in its native state or as 
stuffing of bolsters or mattresses. The fine (hukum 
pawang] is $i 2.50 ; the ordinary pillow used by a miner 
is made of some soft wood. 

" 2. Black coats and the attitudes designated pakei 
pawang* may not be assumed by any one on the mine, 
with the exception of the pawang. (Hukum pawang, 

" 3. The gourd used as a water vessel by Malays, 
all descriptions of earthenware, glass, and all sorts of 
limes and lemons, and the outer husk of the cocoa-nut, 
are prohibited articles on mines. (Hukum pawang, 

" Note. All eating- and drinking-vessels should be 
made of cocoa-nut shell or of wood : the noise made by 
earthenware and glass is said to be offensive to the 
hantu. But in the case of a breach of this regulation 
the pawang would warn the offenders two or three 
times before he claimed the fine. 

1 A small tray or platform for offer- 8 In Selangor anchak is the form 
igs, supported by a central " leg," used. It means a sacrificial tray (for 
vide Mr. Hale's description, s.v. Kapala offerings to the spirits), vide infra, pp. 
nasi (infra). 260, 310-313, 414-423. 

2 Gantang is a measure approxi- * Lit. the " Magician's wear. " 
mately equivalent to a gallon. 


" 4. Gambling and quarrelling are strictly forbidden 
on mines ; the fine is claimed for the first offence. 
(Hukum pawang, $12.50.) 

" 5. Wooden aqueducts (palong) must be prepared 
in the jungle a long way from the mine. (Hukum 
pawang, $12.50.) 

" The noise of the chopping is said to be offensive 
to the hantu. 

" 6. Any breach of the bahasa pantang is an 
offence. (Hukum pawang, $12.50.) 

"7. Charcoal must not be allowed to fall into the 
races. (Hukum pawang, $12.50.) 

" 8. A miner must not wear and go to work on the 
mine in another man's trousers. (Hukum pawang, one 
karong of tin sand.) 

"Note. This applies only to the senar seluar 
basah, or working dress. It is also an offence to work 
in the garment called sarong. 

"9. If the chupak (measure) of the mine is broken, 
it must be renewed within three days. (Hukum 
pawang, one bhara of tin.) 

" 10. No weapon may be brought within the four 
posts of the smelting-house which immediately surround 
the furnace. (Hukum pawang, $1.25.) 

"n. Coats may not be worn within this space. 
(Hukum pawang, $1.25.) 

"12. These posts may not be cut or hacked. 
(Hukum pawang, one slab of tin.) 

"13. If a miner returns from work, bringing back 
with him some tin sand, and discovers that somebody 
has eaten the cold rice which he had left at home, he 
may claim from the delinquent one karong of tin sand. 
The pawang adjudicates in the matter. 

"14. An earthenware pot (priok) which is broken 


must be replaced within three days. (Hukum pawang, 
one karong of tin sand.) 

" 15. No one may cross a race in which a miner is 
sluicing without going some distance above him, up 
stream ; if he does he incurs a penalty of as much tin 
sand as the race contains at the moment, payable to 
the owner of the race. The pawang adjudicates. 

" 1 6. A kris, or spear, at a mine, if without a sheath, 
must be carefully wrapped in leaves, even the metal 
setting (simpei) must be hidden. Spears may only be 
carried at the "trail." (Hukum pawang, uncertain.) 

" 1 7. On the death of any miner, each of his com- 
rades on that mine pays to the pawang one chupak 
(penjuru) of tin sand. 

"It will be noticed that the amount of the majority 
of these fines is $12.50 ; this is half of the amount of 
the fine which, under the Malay customary law, a 
chief could impose on a ra'iyat l for minor offences. It 
is also the amount of the customary dowry in the case 
of a marriage with a slave or with the widow or divorced 
wife of a ra'iyat. 

" The Malay miner has peculiar ideas about tin and 
its properties ; in the first instance, he believes that it 
is under the protection and command of certain spirits 
whom he considers it necessary to propitiate ; next he 
considers that the tin itself is alive and has many of 
the properties of living matter, that of its own volition 
it can move from place to place, that it can reproduce 
itself, and that it has special likes or perhaps affinities 
for certain people and things, and vice versa. Hence 
it is advisable to treat tin-ore with a certain amount of 
respect, to consult its convenience, and what is, perhaps, 

1 Ra'iyat is used here to denote a to a Chief or Raja. It is sometimes 
man of the common people, as opposed used by Malays in other senses. 


more curious, to conduct the business of mining in such 
a way that the tin-ore may, as it were, be obtained 
without its own knowledge ! " 

Mr. Hale adds an interesting vocabulary of Malay 
mining terms from which the following words are ex- 
tracted as being specially connected with the supersti- 
tions of the miners : 

Ancha. A square frame i' 6" x i' 6", composed of strips of 
split bamboo for the floor and four pieces of peeled wood 
for the sides. The proper wood is kayu sungkei?- because it 
has flat even twigs and leaves which lie flat and symmetrically; 
these must be bound together with a creeper : rattan may 
not be used; it is hung to the tulang bumbong^ just under 
the attaps 3 of the smelting-shed ; it is used as an altar, the 
offerings made by the miners to the spirits being placed 
on it. 

Genggulang. The platform or altar erected by the pawang at 
the opening of a mine. It should be built entirely of kayu 
sungkei. The wood is peeled, except the four branches 
which serve as posts ; these are only peeled up to the twigs 
and leaves, which are left on, about 4 feet 6 inches from 
the ground. At 3 feet 3 inches from the ground a square 
platform of round peeled sticks, about i foot 3 inches 
each way, is arranged ; one foot above the level of the plat- 
form a sort of railing is fixed round three sides of the square, 
and from the open side a ladder with four steps reaches 
down to the ground ; the railing is carried down to the 
ground on each side of the ladder, and supports a fringe of 
cocoa-nut leaves (jari-lipan). The whole erection must be 
tied together with creepers ; rattan must not be used. 

Jari lipan. A fringe made of the young white leaflets of the 
cocoa-nut palm plaited together. 4 

Jampi. The incantation of the pawang. 

Kapala nasi. A stake of peeled wood (kayu sungkei) stuck in 
the ground ; the top of this is split into four so as to support 

1 Seperti sungkei be-rendam, "like 2 Beam or rafter of the shed. 

a soaked sungkei stick. " When the 3 Palm-leaf thatch. 

sungkei stick has been soaked for a 4 Forbes mentions a "palm -leaf 

long time, say three months, the peel fringe " used in certain rites by the 

comes clean away ; proverbial expres- Kalangs of Java. A Naturalist's 

sion used of a person "cleaned out." Wanderings, p. 101. 


a platform similar to that of the genggutang. Offerings are 
made upon it 1 

Pantang burok mata. The period of mourning observed when 
a death occurs at a mine. 

Mourning consists in abstention from work (in the case of 
a neighbour or comrade) for three days, or, in the case of the 
death of the pawang, penghulu kelian, or the feudal chief, for 
seven days. The expression is derived from the supposition 
that in three days the eyes of a corpse have quite disappeared. 
Chinese miners have a similar custom ; whoever goes to assist 
in the burial of a corpse must not only abstain from work, 
but must not go near the mine or smelting furnace for three 
days. 2 

Perasap. Half a cocoa-nut shell, a cup, or any other vessel, in 
which votive offerings of sweet-smelling woods and gums are 

Sangka. A receptacle in which to burn offerings of sweet woods 
and gums ; it is made of a stick of bamboo about three feet 
long, one end being split and opened out to receive the char- 
coal ; it is stuck in the ground near races and heaps of tin 
sand. 3 

Tatin gulang. The pawang's fee for the ceremony of erecting a 

The following notes on tin -mining in Selangor 
were contributed to the Selangor Journal \*y Mr. J. C. 
Pasqual, a well-known local miner : 

" The Malay mining pawang will soon be a thing 
of the past, and many a pawang has returned to tilling 
the soil in place of his less legitimate occupation of 
imposing upon the credulity of the miners. The 
reason for this is not far to seek, as the Malay miner, 

1 "It is quite a common thing in 3 The derivation of the name of this 

Java to encounter by the wayside near primitive Malay censer from the Sans- 

a village, or in a rice-field, or below krit fankha (conch shell) has been 

the shade of a great dark tree, a little pointed out (Maxwell, Malay Manual, 

platform with an offering of rice and p. 32). Forbes notes having seen in 

prepared fruits to keep disease and a sacred grove in Java " the remnants 

blight at a distance and propitiate the of small torches of sweet gums which 

spirits." A Naturalists Wanderings, had been offered." A Naturalist's 

Forbes, p. 103. Wanderings, p. 97. 

8 In Selangor this custom is now * J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 16, pp. 310- 

obsolete. Sel. Jour. vol. iii. No. 18, 320. 
p. 294. 


as well as the Chinese miner, of the old school, with 
their thousand-and-one superstitions, has given place 
to a more modern and matter-of-fact race, who place 
more reliance for prospecting purposes on boring tools 
than on the divination and jampi of the pawang. 
But the profession of the pawang has not altogether 
died out, as he is sometimes called into requisition for 
the purpose of casting out evil spirits from the mines ; 
of converting amang 1 (pyrites) into tin -ore, and of 
invoking the spirits of a mine previous to the breaking 
of the first sod in a new venture. These ceremonies 
generally involve the slaying of a buffalo, a goat, or 
fowls, and the offering of betel-leaf, incense, and rice, 
according to the means of the towkay lombong. 

" The term pawang is now used by the Chinese 
to indicate the 'smelter' (Chinese) of a mine (prob- 
ably from the fact that this office was formerly the 
monopoly of the Malay pawang]. 

"To the pawangs are attributed extraordinary 
powers, for besides inducing tin-ore to continue or 
become plentiful in a mine, he can cause its disappear- 
ance from a rich ' claim ' by the inevitable jampi, this 
latter resource being resorted to by way of revenge 
in cases where the towkay lombong (or labor] fails 
to carry out his pecuniary obligation towards the 
pawang whose aid he had invoked in less prosperous 
times. Some of the stories told of the prowess of 
pawangs are very ridiculous ; for instance, a native 
lady in Ulu Langat (for women are also credited with 
the pawang attributes), who was the pawang of Sungei 
Jelok in Kajang, could command a grain of tin-ore 

1 Cliff, and Swett. , Malay Diet. > s.v. this name. They are all considered 
Amang : "tourmaline, wolfram, and impurities, and tourmaline is the one 
titaniferous iron-ore are all called by most commonly met with. " 


to crawl on the palm of her hand like a live worm. 1 
The failure of the Sungei Jelok mines was attributed 
to her displeasure on account of an alleged breach of 
contract on the part of the towkay lombong. 

" The term pawang is sometimes used as a verb 
in the sense of ' to prospect ' a sungei or stream ; 
thus in alluding to certain streams or mines, it is not 
uncommon to hear a Malay say that they have been 
prospected (sudah di-pawangkan) by 'Inche' So-and- 
so meaning that the stream had been discovered 
and proved by a pawang prior to the opening of the 
mines." 2 

In a later article Mr. Pasqual says: "It is be- 
lieved that tin will even on rare occasions announce 
its presence by a peculiar noise heard in the stillness 
of night, and that some birds and insects by their 
chirrupings and whirrings will proclaim its where- 
abouts." 8 

In a still later article, after briefly referring to the 
use of the bhasa pantang, or " Taboo Language," 
by tin-miners in Selangor, Mr. Pasqual proceeds : 

11 There are, again, certain acts which are forbidden. 
In the mine, especially if the karang* has not yet been 
removed, it is forbidden to wear shoes or carry an 
umbrella. This rule, it seems, originated with the 
coolies themselves, who in olden times insisted that the 
Towkay Labur should take off his shoes and close his 
umbrella whenever he visited the mine, so that, as they 
alleged, the spirits might not be offended. But their 
real object was not to allow him to pry too much into 

1 The Malay was saptrti ulat hidup, 3 Set. Journ. vol. iv. No. 2, p. 

which would rather mean " like live 26. 

maggots." W.S. * i.e. tin-bearing stratum and stone 

8 Sel. Journ. vol. iii. No. 1 8, pp. overlying the ore. 
293. 294- 


the mine, in case it might not bear scrutiny ; and thus, 
by depriving him of the protection from the sun and 
from the rough mining quartz which would have been 
afforded by the umbrella and shoes, they prevented 
him from going about here, there, and everywhere, and 
making unpleasant inquiries, as he would otherwise 
have liked to do. 

" Quarrelling and fighting in the mine is strictly 
forbidden, as it has a tendency to drive away the ore. 

" Bathing in the mine is not allowed. 

" A man must not work in the mine with only 
his bathing- cloth around his body. He must wear 

" If a man takes off his sun hat and puts it on the 
ground, he must turn it over and let it rest upon its 

" Limes cannot be brought into the mine. This 
superstition is peculiar to the Malay miner, who has a 
special dread of this fruit, which, in pantang language, 
he calls salah nama (lit. ' wrong name ') instead of limau 

"In looking at the check-roll it is forbidden to point 
at the names with the finger. No one may examine 
the check-roll at night with an open light, owing more 
probably to the fear of setting it on fire than to super- 
stitious prejudices. 

"It is considered unlucky for a man to fall off the 
mining ladder, for, whether he is hurt or not, he is 
likely to die within the year. 

"An outbreak of fire in the mine is considered an 
omen of prosperity. Several mines have been known 
to double or treble their output of tin after the occur- 
rence of a fire. 

"It is unlucky for a coolie to die in the kongsi 


house. When, therefore, a man is very sick and past 
all hopes of recovery, it is customary to put him out of 
the house in an extempore hut erected in the scrub, 
so that death may not take place in the kongsi amongst 
the living. His ckuleis 1 attend him during his last 
hours and bury him when dead. These and other 
superstitious ideas and observances are, however, fast 
dying out, though it would still be an unsafe experi- 
ment to enter a mine with shoes on and an umbrella 
over your head." 8 

The remaining notes on mining ceremonies and 
charms were collected by me in Selangor. On reach- 
ing the tin-bearing stratum, the tin-ore is addressed 
by name : 

" Peace be with you, O Tin-Ore, 
At the first it was dew that turned into water, 
And water that turned into foam, 
And foam that turned into rock, 
And rock that turned into tin-ore ; 
Do you, O Tin-Ore, lying in a matrix of solid rock, 
Come forth from this matrix of solid rock ; 
If you do not come forth 
You shall be a rebel in the sight of God. 
Ho, Tin-Ore, Sir ' Floating Islet,' 
1 Flotsam-at-sea,' and ' Flotsam-on-land,' 
Do you float up to the surface of this my tank, 3 
Or you shall be a rebel to God," etc. 

Sometimes each grain of ore appears to be con- 
sidered as endowed with a separate entity or individu- 
ality. Thus we find in another invocation the following 
passage, where the wizard is addressing the grains of 
ore : 

1 i.e. his "connections." are worked in the Malay States being 

* Set. Journ. vol. iv. No. 8, p. 139. ** f th r e remova j of the overburden, 

which, of course, forms immense pits, 

3 "This my tank" is an allusion to such as are here likened to an (empty), 
the mine, the system on which mines tank or reservoir. 


" Do You (Grains of Ore) that are on the Hills descend to the 


You that are at the Head-waters descend to Mid-stream, 
You that are at the Estuary ascend to Mid-stream. 
And assemble yourselves together in this spot. 

Assemble yourselves together, ' Rice-grains ' and ' Spinach-seed,' 

'Tobacco-seed,' 'Millet,' and 'Wild Ginger-Seed,' 

Assemble ye together in this spot. 

I am desirous of excavating this spot, 

And of making a mine here ; 

If ye do not assemble yourselves together 

I shall curse you ; 

You shall be turned into dust, and turned into air, 

And you shall also be turned into water." 

The separate personality of each individual grain 
is remarkably clear in the above passage. The names 
of the different kinds of seed are in allusion to the 
various shapes and sizes of the grains of ore. 

Yet in the very same charm various kinds of 
lizards and centipedes are begged to "bring the tin- 
ore with them, some of them a grain or two, some of 
them a fistful or two, some of them a gallon or two, 
some of them a load or two," and so on. No doubt 
the wizard was determined to allow the grains no 
loophole for escape. 

The objects of the charms employed by the mining 
wizards are the following : 

(i) To clear the jungle of evil spirits (and pro- 
pitiate the good ones?) before starting to fell, as is 
shown by the following passage : 

" O Grandfather King Solomon, Black King Solomon, 
I desire to fell these woods, 
But it is not I who am in charge of these woods, 
It is Yellow King Solomon who is in charge of them, 
And Red King Solomon who is in charge of them. 
It is I who fell the jungle, 

But only with the permission of those two persons. 
Rise, rise, O Ye who watch it (the tin ?), 


[Here are] three 'chews' of betel for you, and three cigarettes, 

Maimurup, O Maimerah, O Gadek Hitam, 

Si Gadek Hitam (Black Grannie) from Down-stream, 
Si Gadek Kuning (Yellow Grannie) from Up-stream, 
And Si Maimerah from Mid-stream." 

(Here some lines follow which are as yet untrans- 

" Retire ye and avaunt from hence, 
If ye retire not from hence, 
As you stride, your leg shall break, 

As you stretch your hand out, your hand shall be crippled, 
As you open your eye (to look), your eyeball shall burst, 
Your eye stabbed through with a thorn of the T'rong Asam, 1 
And your hand pierced with the Sega jantan? 
And your finger-nails with Heart of Brazilwood. 
Moreover, your tongue shall be slit with a bamboo splinter, 
For thus was it sworn by ' Grandfather Sakernanaininaini ' 3 
Into the leaf (of the) Putajaya, 
Upon the summit of the mountain of Ceylon. 

1 know the origin from which you spring, 
From the Black Blood and the Red, 
That was your origin. 

We are two sons of one father, but with different inheritances ; 
In my charge is Gold and Tin-ore, 
In yours are Rocks and Sand, 
With chaff and bran." 

(2) To clear evil spirits away from the ground 
before commencing the work of excavation. The 
charm for this is given in the Appendix, but is little 
more than a list of names. 

(3) To propitiate the local spirits and induce the 
tin-ore to show itself, when the tin-bearing stratum is 
reached, by means of the charm quoted above. 

1 A plant, possibly Solatium aculea- of the kabong-yakm. (Artnga sacchari- 

tissimnm, Jacq., which has very thorny fera, L.) 

orange-coloured fruits. s Presumably a corruption of Iskandar 

8 Stga is a species of rattan (Calamus zu '1-Karnain, i.e. Alexander the Great, 

viminalis or Calamus ornatus, Griff. ) ; who plays a considerable part in Malay 

but probably the better reading here is legendary history. 
sfgar, which means a long black spike 


(4) To induce the spirits to partake of a banquet 
which is spread for them in a receptacle intended 
to be the model of a royal audience-chamber. 

This, the "spirits' audience -chamber" (as it is 
called), is usually from two to three feet square, and 
is filled with offerings similar in character to those 
usually deposited on the sacrificial tray (anchaK), with 
the addition, however, of certain articles which are 
considered to be specially representative of the miners' 
food. These articles are sugar-cane, plantains, yams, 
sweet potatoes, and fish, etc. ; all of which should be 
placed together with the customary offerings in the 
" spirits' audience-chamber." Outside the "audience- 
hall," at each of the two front corners, should be 
placed a red and a white flag and a wax taper ; and at 
each of the two back corners should be placed a taper, 
making in all four flags and seven tapers. 

A standard censer (perasapan) must be erected in 
front of the " audience-chamber," and a second small 
censer must also be obtained, so that burning incense 
may be " waved " to and fro underneath the floor of 
the audience-chamber in order to fumigate it before 
the offerings are deposited inside it. 

During the fumigation a charm is recited, in which 
the assistance of the spirits of certain canonized 
Muhammadan worthies is invoked, concluding 
thus : 

" Peace be with you, O White Sheikh, wizard of the virgin 


Wizards old, and wizards young, 

Come hither and share the banquet I have prepared for you. 
I crave pardon for all mistakes, 
For all shortcomings I beg pardon in every particular." 

Then when the tapers are all lighted and the offer- 


ings ready, a further charm is recited, which begins as 
follows : 

" Ho, White Sheikh, king of the virgin jungle, 
It is you to whom belong all people of the jungle and virgin 


Do you, whose back is turned towards heaven, 
Give your orders to all the Elders of the earth and Princes 

who are here, 

You who here hold the position of Indra, 
Come hither and partake of my banquet. 

I wish to ask for your assistance, 

I wish to open (excavate) this mine." l 

The chief taboos are the killing of any sort of living 
creature within the mine ; to wear a sarong (Malay 
skirt) ; to bring into the mine the skin of any beast ; 
and to wear shoes or use an umbrella within the mine. 
These are some of the perpetual taboos, but no doubt 
there are many others. 

In the case of a sacrifice, however, the white buffalo 
may of course be killed, not within the mine itself, but 
still upon its brink ; and when this is done, the head is 
buried, and small portions (which must be " repre- 
sentative " of every part of the carcase) should be taken 
and deposited in the " audience-chamber." 

Among the seven days' taboos are mentioned the 
killing of any living timber (within the precincts of the 
mine ?), lewdness, and the praising or admiring of the 
"grass seed" (puji buah rumpuf], which is the name 
by which the tin-ore must invariably be called within 
the precincts of the mine. This last taboo is due to 
the use of a special mining vocabulary to which the 
greatest attention was formerly paid, and which did 
not differ very greatly from that used in Perak. 

1 Vide App. cxviii., cxix. 


Another account of the ceremony runs as follows ; 
I give it word for word as I took it down from my 
Malay informant : 

" Take five portions of cooked and five portions of 
uncooked fowls, both white and black, together with 
black pulut rice, 1 millet-seed (sekoi\ seeds of the 
chebak China, etc. etc. When all is ready, burn 
incense, scatter the black rice with the right hand over 
the bottom of a tray, i.e. an ancJiak (such as is used for 
offerings to the spirits), fumigate and deposit the offer- 
ings in five portions upon this layer of rice (one portion 
going to each corner and one to the middle of the 
tray). Take black cloth, five cubits long, fumigate it, 
and wave it thrice round the head with the right hand 
from left to right, repeating the following invocation 
(serapaK) : 

" O Grandfather ' Batin ' 2 the Elder, 
In whose charge are caverns and hill-locked basins, 
O Grandfather ' Batin ' the Younger, 

In whose charge are all these your civil and military companies, 
May the Ore which is on the Hills descend to the Plain, 
May that which is Up-stream descend to Mid-stream, 
And that which is Down-stream ascend to Mid-stream, 
Assemble you together, O Ores, in this spot ; 
It is not I who call you, 

It is Grandfather Batin the Elder who calls you, 
It is Batin the Younger who calls you, 
It is the Elder Wizard who calls you, 
It is the Younger Wizard who calls you, 
Assemble yourselves together, Rubbish and Trash, 
House-lizards, ' Kalerik] Centipedes, and Millipedes, 
And partake of my banquet. 
Let whosoever comes bring me ore, 
A ketong z or two, 

1 Oryza sativa, L. var. 3 Kftong as a dry measure is not 

2 Batin is a title of certain Chiefs to be found in the dictionaries. V. d. 
amongst the aboriginal tribes of the Wall, however, gives a form kentong 
southern part of the Peninsula. It (with which it may be connected) as 
appears to have been in former days meaning an earthen pot, formerly used 
sometimes borne by Malays also. for holding /a/a,f-sugar. 


A fistful or two, 

An arai l or two, 

A gallon or two, 

A basket or two, 

Assemble yourselves together, Boiled Rice-seed, 

Spinach-seed, Tobacco-seed, Millet-seed, Wild Ginger-seed, 

Assemble yourselves together in this spot. 

I wish to excavate this spot, 

I wish to open a mine : 

If you do not come, if you do not gather yourselves together, 

I shall curse you ; 

You shall turn into dust, into air, and into water. 

By virtue of the magic arts of my teacher be my petition 


It is not I who petition, 
It is the Elder Wizard who petitions, 
It is the Younger Wizard who petitions. 
By the grace of ' There is no god but God/ " etc. 

The foregoing descriptions of mining ceremonies 
and charms refer to tin only, but in so far as general 
animistic ideas go, they might be equally well applied 
to other metals, such as silver and gold. 

It has already been remarked that as the Tin spirit 
is believed to take the form of a buffalo, so the 
Gold spirit is said to take the form of a golden 
roe-deer (kijang). Of the ceremonies which the 
Malays believe to be essential for successful gold- 
mining, not much information has yet been published. 
In Denys' Descriptive Dictionary, however, we read 
the following : 

" Gold is believed to be under the care and in the 
gift of a dewa, or god, and its search is therefore un- 
hallowed, for the miners must conciliate the dewa by 
prayers and offerings, and carefully abstain from pro- 
nouncing the name of God or performing any act of 
worship. Any acknowledgment of the sovereignty of 
Allah offends the dewa, who immediately ' hides the 

1 An arai is an Achinese measure [ = 2 chtipak\, about 3 \ Ibs. 


gold,' or renders it invisible. At some of the great 
limbongan 1 mas or gold-pits in the Malay States of the 
interior, any allusion to the Deity subjects the unwitting 
miner to a penalty which is imposed by the Penghtilu. 
The qualities of the gold vary greatly in the same 
country. The finest gold brought to market is that of 
the principality of Pahang, on the eastern side of the 
Malay Peninsula, which brings a higher price than 
even that of Australia by better than three per cent. 
The gold is all obtained by washing, and the metal has 
never been worked, and scarcely even traced to the 
original veins. It is mostly in the form of powder or 
dust the mas-urai of the Malays, literally 'loose or 
disintegrated gold.' " 2 

Gold, silver, and an amalgam formed of the two, 
are regarded as the three most precious metals, and of 
these gold is, to a very uncertain and partial extent, 
still sometimes regarded as a royal prerogative. 3 

Of Silver still less information has been collected 
than of gold. This, however, is but natural, as silver 
has not yet been found in payable quantities, whereas 
many gold mines exist. It is just possible, however, 
that silver may be worked by the Malays on a small 
scale in the Siamese-Malay States, as it would be diffi- 
cult on any other hypothesis to account for the follow- 
ing invocation, which was given me by a Malay of 
Kelantan ('Che 'Abas) : 

" Peace be with you, O Child of the Solitary Jin Salaka (Silver), 
I know your origin. 

1 Sic : quaere lombong ? the wearing the koronchong, or hollow 

2 Denys, Descr. Diet, of Brit. bracelets of gold, ornamented with 
Malaya, s.v. Gold. silver." 

3 Vide Leyden, Malay Annals, p. Two legends, which connect the 
94. " He (the Sultan), also prohibited wild boar with the precious metals, 
the ornamenting of creeses with gold, have already been mentioned, -vide p. 
and the wearing anklets of gold, and 188, supra. 


Your dwelling-place is the Yellow Cloud Rock ; 

The Place of your Penance the Sea of Balongan Darah ; 

The Place of your Penance is a Pond in every stream ; 

The Place of your Birth was the Bay where the Wind Dies ; 

Ho, Child of the Solitary Jin Salaka, 

Come hither at this time, this very moment, 

I wish to make you a propitiatory offering, to banquet you on 

arrack and toddy. 

If you do not come hither at this very moment 
You shall be a rebel unto God, 
And a rebel unto God's Prophet Solomon, 
For I am God's Prophet Solomon" 

No other metals, so far as I am aware, are worked 
to any extent in the Peninsula, yet there is the clearest 
possible evidence of animistic ideas about Iron. Thus 
for the Sacred Lump of Iron which forms part of the 
regalia of more than one of the petty Sultans in the 
Peninsula, the Malays entertain the most extraordinary 
reverence, not unmingled with superstitious terror. 1 It 
is upon this " Lump of Iron," when placed in water, 
that the most solemn and binding oath known to those 
who make use of it is sworn ; and it is to this " Lump of 
Iron " that the Malay wizard refers when he recites his 
category of the most terrible denunciations that Malay 
magic has been able to invent. 2 

It is possible that there may be, in the Malay 

1 Vide v. d. Wall, Malay - Dutch oath would be affected by a severe 

Diet., s.v. Kawi, one of the mean- sickness, and in the case of a Chief 

ings of which he explains as the super- the sickness affects the whole tribe. " 
natural power of anything. He pro- jBisa kawi is another (West Surna- 

ceeds to explain btsi kawi as tran) form of this expression. Under 

follows : It is "a piece of old scrap- Bisa III., </.v., v. d. W. remarks that 

iron with supernatural powers, belong- to say, ' ' May you be struck by the Bisa 

ing to the royal insignia of the former Kawi" (lit. Poison of Kawi), is the 

Kingdom of Johor, now [then?] in the ugliest wish you can address to any- 

possession of the Sultan of Lingga. body, as it is supposed to bring upon 

Whenever an oath was to be taken by the person so addressed every possible 

a subject, the Iron would be immersed kind of sickness. 

in water for a time, and the patient [sic] 2 For examples vide the charms 

had to drink of this water before he quoted in almost every part of this 

took the oath. Whoever took a false book. 


mind at all events, some connection between the 
supernatural powers ascribed to this portion of the 
regalia and the more general use of iron as a charm 
against evil spirits. For the various forms of iron 
which play so conspicuous a part in Malay magic, 
from the long iron nail which equally protects the 
new-born infant and the Rice-Soul from the powers 
of evil, to the betel-nut scissors which are believed to 
scare the evil spirits from the dead, are alike called the 
representatives (symbols or emblems) of Iron (tanda 
best). So, too, is the blade of the wood- knife, or cutlass, 
which a jungle Malay will sometimes plant in the bed 
of a stream (with its edge towards the source) before 
he will venture to drink of the water. So, too, is the 
blade of the same knife, upon the side of which he 
will occasionally seat himself when he is eating alone 
in the forest ; both of these precautions being taken, 
however, as I have more than once been told, not 
only to drive away evil spirits, but to "confirm" the 
speaker's own soul (menetapkan semangaf). 

Even Stone appears to be regarded as distinctly 
connected with ideas of animism. Thus the stone 
deposited in the basket with the Rice-soul, the stone 
deposited in the child's swinging cot by way of a 
substitute when the child is temporarily taken out 
of it, and above all the various concretions to be found 
from time to time both in the bodies of animals 
("Bezoar" stones) and in the stems or fruit of trees 
(as tabasheer], are examples of this. Examples of 
tabasheer have already been quoted (under Vegetation 
Charms), but a few remarks about Bezoar stones may 
be of interest. 

The Bezoar stones known to the Peninsular Malays 
are usually obtained either from monkeys or por- 


cupines. Extraordinary magical virtues are attached 
to these stones, the gratings of which are mixed 
with water and administered to the sick. 1 

I was once asked $200 for a small stone which 
its owner kept in cotton-wool in a small tin box, 
where it lay surrounded by grains of rice, upon which 
he declared that it fed. 2 I asked him how it could 
be proved that it was a true Bezoar stone (which it 
undoubtedly was not), and he declared that if it were 
placed upon an inverted tumbler and touched with 
the point of a Kris (dagger) or a lime-fruit it would 
commence to move about. Both tests were therefore 
applied in my presence, but the motion of the Bezoar 
stone in each case proved to be due to the most 
overt trickery on the part of the owner, who by 
pressing on one side of the stone (which was spherical 
in shape) naturally caused it to move ; in fact I was 
easily able to produce the same effect in the same 
way, as I presently showed him, though of course 
he could not be brought to admit the deception. 3 

1 " It is a very general belief among article of export from the Rejang and 
Malays that Guliga [and] Buntat, viz. Bintulu rivers in the Sarawak territory, 
stones that are found in the bodies of These concretions are chiefly obtained 
animals or contained in trees, have great from a red monkey (a species of Seat- 
magic and vegetable virtue. These nopithecus), which seems to be very 
stones are worn as charms, and are abundant in the interior districts of 
also scraped, the scrapings being mixed Borneo. A more valuable Guliga, 
with water and given to the sick as called the ' Guliga Landak,' is ob- 
medicine." Pubns. of the R.A.S., tained from the porcupine, but it is 
S.B., No. 3, p. 26 n. comparatively rare. The Sepoys 

2 This idea recalls a similar super- stationed at Sibu Fort in the Rejang 
stition about what are called in the formerly exported considerable numbers 
Straits Settlements " breeding-pearls," of these calculi to Hindustan, where, 
i.e. a kind of pearl which is supposed in addition to their supposed efficacy 
to reproduce itself when kept in a box as an antidote for the poison of snakes 
and fed with pulut rice for a suffici- and other venomous creatures, they 
ently lengthy period. Vide J.R.A.S., appear to be applied, either alone or 
S.B., No. I, pp. 31-37, No. 3, pp. in combination with other medicines, 
140-143. to the treatment of fevers, asthmatic 

3 "The Guliga, more commonly complaints, general debility, etc. A 
known as Bezoar, forms a recognised few years ago, however, these men 



Before I leave this portion of the subject, I may 
mention that magic powers are very generally ascribed 
to the " celts " or " stone-age " implements which are 
frequently found in the Peninsula, and are called 
thunderbolts (batu halilintar). They are not un- 
frequently grated and mixed with water and drunk 

ceased to send any but the Guliga 
Landak, since their hakims had in- 
formed them that the concretions 
obtained from the monkeys had come 
to be considered of very doubtful, if 
any, value from a medicinal point of 
view. The usual test for a good 
Guliga is to place a little chunam on 
the hand and to rub the Guliga against 
it, when, if it be genuine, the lime 
becomes tinged with yellow. Imita- 
tions are by no means rare, and on one 
occasion which came to my own know- 
ledge, some Bakatans succeeded in 
deceiving the Chinamen, who trade in 
these articles, by carefully moulding 
some fine light clay into the form of a 
Bezoar, and then rubbing it well all over 
with a genuine one. The extreme 
lightness of a real Guliga and the lime 
test are, however, generally sufficient 
to expose a counterfeit Bezoar. The 
Sepoys and Malays apply various im- 
aginary tests. Thus they assert that 
if a true Guliga be clasped in the 
closed fist the bitter taste of the con- 
cretion will be plainly susceptible to 
the tongue when applied to the back 
of the hand, and even above the elbow 
if the Guliga be a good ' Landak ' ; and 
a Sepoy once assured me that having 
accidentally broken one of the latter he 
immediately was sensible of a bitter 
taste in the mouth. 

"Accounts vary very much among 
the natives as to the exact position in 
which the Guligas are found : some 
saying they may occur in any part of 
the body, others that they occur only 
in the stomach and intestines, whilst I 
have heard others declare that they 
have taken them from the head and 
even the hand ! Bezoar stones are 
sold by weight, the gold scale being 
used, and the value varies according 

to quality and to the scarcity or abund- 
ance of the commodity at the time of 
sale. The ordinary prices paid at 
Rejang a few years ago were from 
$1.50 to $2 per amas for common 
stones and from $2.50 to $4 per amas 
for Guliga Landak. I have seen one 
of the latter which was valued at $100. 
It was about the size of an average 
Tangiers orange, and was perfectly 
spherical. The surface, where not 
artificially abraded, was smooth, shin- 
ing, bronze-brown, studded with nume- 
rous irregularly -shaped fragments of 
dark rich brown standing out slightly 
above the general mass of the calculus. 
These fragments, in size and appear- 
ance, bore a close resemblance to the 
crystals in a coarse-grained porphyritic 

" The common monkey-bezoars vary 
much in colour and shape. I have 
seen them of the size of large filberts, 
curiously convoluted and cordate in 
shape, with a smooth, shining surface 
of a pale olive-green hue. Mr. A. R. 
Houghton once showed me one which 
was an inch and a half long, and 
shaped like an Indian club. It was 
of a dirty greenish colour, perfectly 
smooth and cylindrical, and it had 
become aggregated around a portion 
of a sumpitan dart, which appears to 
have penetrated the animal's stomach, 
and being broken off short has sub- 
sequently served as the nucleus for the 
formation of a calculus. The same 
gentleman had in his possession two 
Landak stones, one of which bore a 
close resemblance to a block in shape, 
and was of a bright green colour, and 
the second was of a rich chocolate 
brown, and could best be likened in 
form to a constable's staff. One 
porcupine stone which was opened was 



like the Bezoar stones, but usually they are kept 
merely as a touch-stone for gold. 

(c) Water 


The following description (by Sir W. E. Maxwell) 
of the bathing ceremony, as practised by the 

found to be a mere shell full of small 
brown shavings like shred tobacco. 

" The part of the island which pro- 
duces these stones in greatest abund- 
ance seems to be, by a coincidence of 
native reports, the district about the 
upper waters of the BaluRgar (Batang 
Kayan). The story is that the head- 
waters of this river are cut off from 
its lower course by an extensive tract 
of hills beneath which the river dis- 
appears, a report by no means unlikely 
if the country be, as is probable, lime- 
stone. The people of the district 
have no communication with the lower 
course of the river, and are thus with- 
out any supply of salt. In lieu of this 
necessity they make use of the waters 
of certain springs, which must be 
saline mineral springs, and which the 
Kayans call ' Sungan.' These springs 
are also frequented by troops of the 
red monkeys before mentioned, and 
the Bezoars are most constantly found 
in the stomachs of these animals 
through their drinking the saline water. 
The hunters lie in wait about such 
springs, and, so runs the report, on 
the animals coming down to drink they 
are able to guess with tolerable cer- 
tainty from external signs which of the 
monkeys will afford the Guliga, and 
they forthwith shoot such with their 
sumpitans. I have this account, curi- 
ous in more ways than one, from 
geveral quite independent sources. In 
concluding these brief notes, I may 
remark that the wide-spread idea of the 
medicinal virtue of these concretions 
would lead us to suppose that there 
is some foundation for their reputa- 

tion." J.K.A. S. , S.., No. 4, pp. 

"The guliga in Siak, which is 
considered to belong to the larangan 
raja [royal property], is an intestinal 
stone found in a kind of porcupine living 
principally in the upper reaches of the 
Mandau. The Sake-is living in this 
region are the only persons who collect 
these stones, which they deliver to the 
Sultan partly as a revenue, partly as 
barang larangan. 

" By right all the guligas found by 
them are the Sultan's ; the greater 
number, however, are clandestinely 
sold to Malay and Chinese traders. 

" According to their size they are 
worth from $40 to $600 a piece. 

"Their value, however, does not 
merely rise with their weight but, as 
in the case of precious stones, rises out 
of all proportion with the mere increase 
in weight. A guliga weighing i 
ringgit (8 mayam) costs $600, whereas 
one of the weight of 3 mayam will only 
be worth $100. 

" or guligas, particularly large ones, 
extraordinary prices are sometimes paid. 
The Sultan of Siak possesses one said 
to be valued at 900. 

"Natives maintain that they are an 
almost infallible medicine in cases of 
chest or bowel complaints, but their 
principal value is founded on their 
reputed virtue as a powerful aphro- 
disiac. To operate in this way one is 
worn on the navel tied up in a piece of 
cloth, or water in which one has been 
soaked is drunk." F. Kehding on Siak 
(Sumatra) mJ.K.A.S., S.B. t No. 17, 
PP- 153-4- 


Perak Malays, may be taken as typical of this 
subject : 

;< Limes are used in Perak, as we use soap, when a 
Malay has resolved on having a really good "scrub." 
They are cut in two and squeezed (ramas) in the hand. 
In Penang a root called sintok is usually preferred 
to limes. When the body is deemed sufficiently 
cleansed the performer, taking his stand facing the 
East, spits seven times, and then counts up seven 
aloud. After the word tujoh (seven) he throws away 
the remains of the limes or sintok to the West, saying 
aloud, Pergi-lah samua sial jambalang deripada badan 
aku ka pusat tasek Pawjangi, 'Misfortune and spirits 
of evil begone from my body to the whirlpool of the 
lake Paujangi ! ' Then he throws (jurus] a few 
buckets of water over himself, and the operation is 

" The lake Paujangi is situated in mid-ocean, and 
its whirlpool most likely causes the tides. All the 
waters of the sea and rivers are finally received there. 
It is probably as eligible an abode for exorcised 
spirits as the Red Sea was once considered to be 
by our forefathers." * 

The ceremony just described is evidently a form 
of purification by water. Similar purificatory cere- 
monies form an integral part of Malay customs at 
birth, adolescence, marriage, sickness, death, and in 
fact at every critical period of the life of a Malay ; 
but will be most conveniently discussed in detail 
under each of the particular headings referred to. 
The tepong tawar ceremony (for the details of which 
see Chapter III., and which is perhaps the commonest 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 9, p. 24 n. As to Paujangi (Pauh Janggi) vide 
pp. 6-9, supra. 


of all Malay magic rites) would also seem to have 
originated from ideas of ceremonial purification. 


The Malays have been from time immemorial a 
sea-faring race, and are quite as superstitious in their 
ideas of the sea as sailors in other parts of the world. 

As has been already indicated, 1 their animistic 
notions include a belief in Water Spirits, both of the 
sea and of rivers, and occasionally this belief finds 
expression in ritual observances. 

Thus, for instance, it was formerly the custom to 
insert a number of sugar-palm twigs (segar kabong] into 
the top of the ship's mast, making the end of it look 
not unlike a small birch of black twigs. 2 

This was intended to prevent the Water Spirit 
(Hantu Ayer) from settling on the mast. His appear- 
ance when he does settle is described as resembling 
the glow of fire flies or of phosphorescence in the sea 
evidently a form of St. Elmo's fire. 

The ship being a living organism, one must, of 
course, when all is ready, persuade it to make a proper 
start. To effect this you go on board, and sitting 
down beside the well (petak ruang\ burn incense and 
strew the sacrificial rice, and then tapping the inside of 
the keelson {jintekkan serempii] and the next plank 
above it (apit lempong), beg them to adhere to each 
other during the voyage, e.g. : 

"Peace be with you, O 'big MSdang' and 'low-growing 

Mgdang ! ' 
Be ye not parted brother from brother, 

1 Vide Chapter IV. supra. 
2 For the charm used at the insertion of the twigs, vide App. cxxii. 


I desire you to speed me, to the utmost of your power, 

To such and such a place ; 

If ye will not, ye shall be rebels against God," etc. 

I need hardly explain, perhaps, that "big medang" 
and "low-growing medang" are the names of two 
varieties of the same tree, which are supposed in the 
present instance to have furnished the timber from 
which these different parts were made. 

Then you stand up in the bows and call upon the 
Sea Spirits for their assistance in pointing out shoals, 
snags, and rocky islets. 1 

Sometimes a talisman is manufactured by writing 
an Arabic text on a leaf which is then thrown into 
the sea. 

So, too, it is not unusual to see rocks in mid-stream 
near the mouths of rivers adorned with a white cloth 
hanging from a long stick or pole, which marks them 
out as "sacred places," and sometimes in rapids where 
navigation is difficult or dangerous, offerings are made 
to the River Spirits, as the following quotation will 
show : 

"We commenced at last to slide down a long 
reach of troubled water perceptibly out of the 
horizontal. The raft buried itself under the surface, 
leaving dry only our little stage, and the whole fabric 
shook and trembled as if it were about to break up. 
Yelling ' Sambut, sambut' ('Receive, receive') to the 
spirits of the stream, whom Kulup Mohamed was 
propitiating with small offerings of rice and leaves, 
the panting boatmen continued their struggles until 
we shot out once more into smooth deep water, and all 
danger was over." 2 

1 Vide App. cxxiv. 2 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 9, p. 26. 


The importance of rivers in the Malay Peninsula, 
and for that matter, in Malayan countries generally, 
can hardly be overrated. It was by the rivers that 
Malay immigration, coming for the most part, if not 
entirely, from Sumatra, entered the interior of the 
Peninsula, and before the influx of Europeans had 
superseded them by roads and railways the rivers 
were the sole means of inland communication. All 
old Malay settlements are situated on the banks of 
rivers or streams, both on this account and because 
of the necessity of having a plentiful supply of water 
for the purpose of irrigating the rice-fields, which 
constitute the main source of livelihood for the in- 

Accordingly the backbone, so to speak, of a Malay 
district is the river that runs through it, and from 
which in most cases the district takes its name ; for 
here, as elsewhere, the river-names are generally older 
than the names of territorial divisions. They are often 
unintelligible and probably of pre-Malayan origin, but 
are sometimes derived from the Malay names of forest 
trees. As a rule every reach and point has a name 
known to the local Malays, even though the river may 
run through forest and swamp with only a few villages 
scattered at intervals of several miles along its banks. 

Of river legends there are not a few. The follow- 
ing extract relates to one of the largest rivers of the 
Peninsula, the river Perak, which gives its name to 
the largest and most important of the Malay States of 
the West Coast. Perak means silver, though none is 
mined in the country ; and the legend is a fair specimen 
of the sort of story which grows up round an attempt 
to account for an otherwise inexplicable name : 

" On their return down-stream, the Raja and his 


followers halted at Chigar Galah, where a small stream 
runs into the river Perak. They were struck with 
astonishment at finding the water of this stream as 
white as santan (the grated pulp of the cocoa-nut 
mixed with water). Magat Terawis, who was 
despatched to the source of the stream to discover 
the cause of this phenomenon, found there a large fish 
of the kind called haruan engaged in suckling her 
young one. She had large white breasts from which 
milk issued. 1 

" He returned and told the Raja, who called the 
river 'Perak' ('silver'), in allusion to its exceeding 
whiteness. Then he returned to Kota Lama." 2 

The Crocodile 

Of the origin of the Crocodile two conflicting stories, 
at least, are told. One of these was collected by Sir 
William Maxwell in Perak ; the other was taken 
down by me from a Labu Malay in Selangor, but 
I have not met with it elsewhere ; a parallel version 
of the story quoted by Maxwell being the com- 
monest form of the legend in Selangor as well as 

Sir William Maxwell's account runs as follows : 
"In the case of the crocodile, we find an instance 
of a dangerous animal being regarded by Malays as 
possessed of mysterious powers, which distinguish 

1 This recalls the account in Northern colour white is an all-important feature, 

mythology of the four rivers which are In this legend we have the white Semang 

said to flow from the teats of the cow and the white river. In others white 

Audhumla. animals and white birds are introduced. 

In a great many Malay myths the 2 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 9, p. 95. 


him from most of the brute creation, and class him 
with the tiger and elephant. Just as in some parts 
of India sacred crocodiles are protected and fed in 
tanks set apart for them by Hindus, so in Malay 
rivers here and there particular crocodiles are con- 
sidered kramat (sacred), and are safe from molesta- 
tion. On a river in the interior of Malacca I have 
had my gun- barrels knocked up when taking aim 
at a crocodile, the Malay who did it immediately 
falling on his knees in the bottom of the boat and 
entreating forgiveness, on the ground that the indi- 
vidual reptile aimed at was kramat, and that the 
speaker's family would not be safe if it were injured. 
The source of ideas like this lies far deeper in the 
Malay mind than his Muhammadanism ; but the 
new creed has, in many instances, appropriated and 
accounted for them. The connection of the tiger 
with AH, the uncle of the prophet, has already been 
explained. A grosser Muhammadan fable has been 
invented regarding the crocodile. 

" This reptile, say the Perak Malays, was first 
created in the following manner : 

" There was once upon a time a woman called Putri 
Padang Gerinsing, whose petitions found great favour 
and acceptance with the Almighty. 

" She it was who had the care of Siti Fatima, the 
daughter of the Prophet. One day she took some 
clay and fashioned it into the likeness of what is now 
the crocodile. The material on which she moulded 
the clay was a sheet of upih (the sheath of the betel- 
nut palm). This became the covering of the croco- 
dile's under-surface. When she attempted to make 
the mass breathe it broke in pieces. This happened 
twice. Now it chanced that the Tuan Putri had just 


been eating sugar-cane, so she arranged a number of 
sugar-cane joints to serve as a backbone, and the 
peelings of the rind she utilised as ribs. On its head 
she placed a sharp stone, and she made eyes out of 
bits of saffron (kuniet) ; the tail was made of the 
mid-rib and leaves of a betel-nut frond. She prayed 
to God Almighty that the creature might have life, 
and it at once commenced to breathe and move. 
For a long time it was a plaything of the Prophet's 
daughter, Siti Fatima ; but it at length became 
treacherous and faithless to Tuan Putri Padang 
Gerinsing, who had grown old and feeble. Then 
Fatima cursed it, saying, ' Thou shalt be the croco- 
dile of the sea, no enjoyment shall be thine, and thou 
shalt not know lust or desire.' She then deprived 
it of its teeth and tongue, and drove nails into its 
jaws to close them. It is these nails which serve 
the crocodile as teeth to this day. Malay Pawangs 
in Perak observe the following methods of proceeding 
when it is desired to hook a crocodile : To commence 
with, a white fowl must be slain in the orthodox way, 
by cutting its throat, and some of its blood must be 
rubbed on the line (usually formed of rattan) to 
which the fowl itself is attached as bait. The dying 
struggles of the fowl in the water are closely watched, 
and conclusions are drawn from them as to the prob- 
able behaviour of the crocodile when hooked. If 
the fowl goes to a considerable distance the crocodile 
will most likely endeavour to make off; but it will 
be otherwise if the fowl moves a little way only up 
and down or across the stream. 

" When the line is set the following spell must be 
repeated : ' Aur Dang sari kamala sari, sambut kirim 
Tuan Putri Padang Gerinsing ; tidak di-sambut mata 


angkau chabut ' (O Dangsari, lotus - flower, receive 
what is sent thee by the Lady Princess Padang 
Gerinsing ; if thou receivest it not, may thy eyes be 
torn out '). As the bait is thrown into the water the 
operator must blow on it three times, stroke it three 
times, and thrice repeat the following sentence, with 
his teeth closed and without drawing breath : ' Kun 
kata Allah sapaya kun kata Muhammad tab paku? 
('Kun saith God, so kun saith Muhammad; nail be 
fixed.') Other formulas are used during other stages 
of the proceedings." 

The rarer story, to which allusion has been made, 
was the following : 

" There was a woman who had a child which had 
just learnt to sit up (tahu dudok}, and to which she 
gave the name of 'Sarilang.' One day she took the 
child to the river-side in order to bathe it, but during 
the latter operation it slipped from her grasp and fell 
into the river. The mother shrieked and wept, but as 
she did not know how to dive she had to return home 
without her child. That night she dreamed a dream, 
in which her child appeared and said, ' Weep no more, 
mother, I have turned into a crocodile, and am now 
called 'Grandsire Sarilang' ('Toh Sarilang): if you 
would meet me, come to-morrow to the spot where 
you lost me.' Next morning, therefore, the mother 
repaired to the river and called upon the name of her 
child, whereupon her child rose to the surface, and she 
saw that from the waist downwards he had already 
turned into a crocodile, though he was still human 
down to the waist. Now the child said, ' Come back 
again after fourteen days, and remember to bring an 
egg and a plantain (banana).' She therefore went 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, pp. 24-26. 


again at the time appointed, and having called upon 
him by his new name ('Toh Sarilang), he again came 
to the surface, when she saw that from the waist up- 
wards he had also now turned into a crocodile. So 
she gave him the egg and the plantain, and he devoured 
them, and when he had done so he said, ' Whenever 
the crocodiles get ferocious (ganas], and commence to 
attack human beings, take a plantain, an egg, and a 
handful of parched rice, and after scattering the rice 
on the river, leave the egg and the plantain on the 
bank, calling upon my name ('Toh Sarilang) 1 as you do 
so, and their ferocity will immediately cease. "'' 

The notes on crocodile folklore which will now be 
given were reprinted in the Selangor Journal from the 
" Perak Museum Notes " of Mr. Wray. 

"When the eggs of a crocodile are hatching out, 
the mother watches ; the little ones that take to their 
native element she does not molest, but she eats up 
all those which run away from the water, but should 
any escape her and get away on to the land they will 
change into tigers. Some, of these reptiles are said to 
have tongues, and when possessed of that organ they 
are very much more vicious and dangerous than the 
ordinarily formed ones. When a crocodile enters a 
river it swallows a pebble, so that on opening the 
stomach of one it is only necessary to count the stones 
in it to tell how many rivers it has been into during its 
life. The Malays call these stones kira-kira did? on 
this account. The Indians on the banks of the Orinoco, 
on the other hand, assert that the alligator swallows 
stones to add weight to its body to aid it in diving and 

1 The most usual name of the croco- Sambu Agai, or, as it is also called, 
dile-spirit, as given in such charms Jambu Rakai. 
as I have succeeded in collecting, is 2 Kira-kira means "accounts." 


dragging its prey under water. Crocodiles inhabiting 
a river are said to resent the intrusion of strangers 
from other waters, and fights often take place in con- 
sequence. According to the Malays they are gifted 
with two pairs of eyes. The upper ones they use 
when above water, and the under pair when beneath 
the surface. This latter pair is situated half-way be- 
tween the muzzle and the angle of the mouth, on the 
under surface of the lower jaw. These are in reality 
not eyes, but inward folds of skin connected by a duct 
with a scent gland, which secretes an unctuous sub- 
stance of a dark gray colour, with a strong musky 
odour. Medicinal properties are attributed to the 
flesh of the males, which are believed to be of very 
rare occurrence, and to be quite unable to leave the 
water by reason of their peculiar conformation. The 
fact is that the sexes are almost undistinguishable, 
except on dissection, and therefore the natives class all 
that are caught as females. While on this subject, it 
may be worth mentioning that at Port Weld there 
used to be a tame crocodile which would come when 
called. The Malays fed it regularly, and said it was 
not vicious, and would not do any harm. It was 
repeatedly seen by the yearly visitants to Port Weld, 
or Sapetang, as the place was then called, and was a 
fine big animal, with a bunch of seaweed growing on 
its head. Some one had it called, and then fired at the 
poor thing ; whether it was wounded or only frightened 
is uncertain, but it never came again." * 

The following notes upon the same subject were 
collected by me in Selangor : 

The female crocodile commonly builds her nest, 
with or without the aid of the male, among the thorny 

1 Selangor Journal, vol. iii. No. 6, pp. 93, 94. 


clumps of fempiei (or dempiei} trees just above 
high-water mark, using the fallen leaves to form the 
nest, and breaking up the twigs with her mouth. The 
season for laying is said, in the north of the Peninsula, 
to coincide with the time "when the rice-stalks swell 
with the grain," i.e. the end of the wet season. 

The most prolific species of crocodile is reputed 
to be the buaya lubok, or Bight crocodile (also called 
buaya rawang, or Marsh crocodile), which lays as 
many as fifty or sixty eggs in a single nest. Other 
varieties, I may add, are the buaya tembaga (Copper 
crocodile), the buaya katak (Dwarf crocodile), which 
is, as its name implies, "short and stout," and the 
buaya hitam or besi (Black or Iron crocodile), which is 
reported to attain a larger size than any other variety. 
This latter kind is often moss-grown, and is hence 
called buaya berlumut (Mossy crocodile). The largest 
specimen of this variety of which I have had any 
reliable account is one which measured " four fathoms, 
less one hasta" (about 23 feet), and which was caught 
in the time of Sultan Mahmat at Sungei Sembilang, 
near Kuala Selangor, by one Nakhoda Kutib. 

The buaya jo long-jo long, which has attracted 
attention owing to its reputed identification with the 
gavial of Indian waters, and which is therefore no 
true crocodile, is pointedly described by Malays as 
separating itself from the other species. 

Finally, there is the buaya gulong tenun (the 
" Crocodile that Rolls up the Weft " ?), which is not, 
however, the name of a separate variety, but is the 
name applied to the Young Person or New Woman of 
the world of crocodile-folk the aggressive female who 
" snaps " at everything and everybody for the mere 
glory of the snap ! ' 


" After hatching," says Mr. Wray, " the mother 
watches, and . . . eats up all those which run away 
from the water, but should any escape her and get 
away on to the land they will turn into tigers." 
There is perhaps more point in the Selangor tradition, 
according to which the little runaways turn, not into 
tigers, but into "iguanas" (Monitor lizards). 

As regards the want of a tongue, which is supposed 
to be common to all crocodiles, it is said they were so 
created by design, in order that they might not acquire 
too pronounced a " taste " for human flesh. Hence 
the proverb which declares that no carrion is too bad 
for them to welcome : " Buaya mana tahu menolak 
bangkei?" ("When will crocodiles refuse corpses?") 1 

After the outbreak of ferocity (ganas) among the 
crocodiles in the Klang River last year, some account 
of the way in which the crocodile is here said to capture 
and destroy his human victims may prove of interest. 

Every crocodile has, according to the Selangor 
Malay, three sets of fangs, which are named as follows : 
(i) si hampa day a* (two above and two below), at 
the tip of the jaws ; (2) entah-entah (two in the upper 
and two in the lower jaw), half-way up ; (3) charik 
kapan (two in the upper and two in the lower jaw), 
near the socket of the jaws. 

The first may be translated by " Exhaust your 
devices " ; the second by " Yes or no " ; and the third 
by " Tear the shroud," the latter being a reference to 
the selvage which, among the Malays, is torn off the 

1 The shortness of the crocodile's sometimes called kail sS/uang, or 
tongue, which is a mere stump of a " seluang " hook, or hook for catching 
tongue, has probably given rise to this the sMuang, a small fish resembling the 
idea. sardine. Vide H. C. C. in N. and Q. 

2 Also sometimes called " Apa No. 4, sec. 95, issued with No. 17 of 
daya," lit. " What device ? " or " What the/.^.^.-S 1 ., S.B. 

resource?" The front teeth are also 



shroud and afterwards used for tying it up when the 
corpse has been wrapped in it. 

If a man is caught by the " Exhausters of all 
Resources," he has a fair chance of escape; if caught 
by the "Debateable" teeth his escape is decidedly 
problematical ; but if caught by the " Tearers of the 
Shroud," he is to all intents and purposes a dead 
man. Whenever it effects a capture the crocodile 
carries its victim at once below the surface, and either 
tries to smother him in the soft, thick mud of the man- 
grove swamp, or pushes him under a snag or projecting 
root, with the object of letting him drown, while it 
retires to watch him from a short distance. After 
what it considers a sufficient interval to effect its pur- 
pose, the crocodile seizes the body of the drowned man 
and rises to the surface, when it " calls upon the Sun, 
Moon, and Stars to bear witness " that it was not guilty 
of the homicide 

" Bukan aku membunoh angkau, 
Ayer yang membunoh angkau" 

Which, being translated, means 

" It was not I who killed you, 
It was water which killed you." 1 

After thrice repeating this strange performance, 
the crocodile again dives and proceeds to prepare the 
corpse for its prospective banquet. Embracing the 
corpse with its "arms," and curving the tip of its 

1 The question of the mental attri- same time, it is credited with strong 

butes ascribed to the crocodile is one common sense (since it is known to 

of great interest, as it is credited by "laugh" at those misguided mortals 

Malays with a human origin. It is " who pole a boat down stream" no less 

not alleged to shed tears over his than the tiger which " laughs " at those 

victim ; but, as the above account who " carry a torch on a moonlight 

shows, it is far from insensible to night "), and also has a strict regard for 

the enormity of manslaughter. At the honesty. ( Vide infra. ) 


powerful tail under its own belly (until the tail is nearly 
bent double), it contrives to break the backbone of the 
victim, and then picking up the body once more with 
its teeth, dashes it violently against a trunk or root in 
orcler to break the long bones of the limbs. When 
the bones are thus so broken as to offer no obstruction, 
it swallows the body whole thus affording a remark- 
able parallel to the boa in its method of devouring its 
prey, and recalling Darwinian ideas of their cousin- 
hood. Miraculous escapes have, however, occasionally 
occurred. Thus Lebai 'Ali was caught by a crocodile 
at Batu Burok (Kuala Selangor), one evening as the 
tide was ebbing, and the crocodile, after smothering 
him effectually (as it thought) in the thick mud, retired 
to await the end. Insensibly, however, it floated 
farther and farther off with the falling tide, and Lebai 
'Ali, seeing his opportunity, made a bold and successful 
dash for freedom. 

A similar case was that of Si Ka', who was pushed 
under a bamboo root on the river bank by the croco- 
dile which caught him, and who, after waiting till his 
formidable enemy had floated a little farther off than 
usual, drew himself up by an overhanging stem and 
swarmed up it. At the same moment the crocodile 
made a rush, and actually caught him by the great toe, 
which latter, however, he willingly surrendered to his 
enemy as the price of his liberty. 

A yet more marvellous escape, was that of 
the youth belonging to the Government launch 
at Klang, who escaped, it is related, by the time- 
honoured expedient of putting his thumbs into the 
crocodile's eyes. In connection with this latter exploit, 
by the way, Malay authorities assert that the crocodile's 
eyes protrude from their sockets on stalks (like those 


of a crab) so long as he stays under water, the stalks 
being "as long as the forefinger," so that it is quite 
an easy matter to catch hold of these living 

For the rest, crocodiles are said by the Malays to 
have a sort of false stomach divided into several 
pouches or sacs, one sac being for the stones which 
they swallow, and another for the clothes and accoutre- 
ments of their human victims, these pouches being in 
addition to their real stomach (in which the remains of 
monkeys, wild pig, mouse-deer, and other small animals 
are found), and, in the case of female specimens, the 
ovary. The second pair of eyes in the neck which, 
Mr. Wray says, they are supposed to use when below 
the surface, are in Selangor supposed to be used at 
night, whence they are called mata malam, or night- 
eyes, as opposed to their real eyes which they are 
supposed to use only by day. 

As regards the stones, which crocodiles undoubtedly 
swallow, they are sometimes supposed to enable each 
male crocodile to keep an account of the number of 
rivers which it has entered, of the number of bights it 
has lived in, or even of the number of its human 
victims. The noise which crocodiles make when fight- 
ing resembles a loud roar or bellow, and the Malays 
apply the same word menguak to the bellow of the 
crocodile as well as to that of the buffalo. 

The wrath of the crocodile-folk is provoked by 
those who wish to shoot them, in various ways, of 
which, perhaps, the commonest is to dabble a sarong, 
or (as is said to be more effectual) a woman's mosquito- 
curtain, in the water of the river where they live. So 
also to keep two sets of weights and measures (one 
for buying and another for selling, as is sometimes 


done by the Chinese), is said to be a certain means of 
provoking their indignation. 

The crocodile-wizard is sometimes credited with 
the power of calling the crocodile-folk together, and 
of discovering a man-eater among them, and an eye- 
witness lately described to me the scene on one such 
occasion. A Malay had been carried off and devoured 
by a crocodile at Larut, and a Batu Bara man, who 
went by the sobriquet of Nakhoda Hassan, undertook 
to discover the culprit. Sprinkling some of the usual 
sacrificial rice -paste (tepong tawar) and "saffron" 
rice upon the surface of the river, he called out in loud 
tones to the various tribes of crocodiles in the river, 
and summoned them to appear on the surface. My 
informant declares that not less than eight or ten 
crocodiles actually appeared, whereupon the Pawang 
commanded them all to return to the bottom with the 
exception of the one which was guilty. In a few 
moments only one crocodile remained on the surface, 
and this one, on being forthwith killed and cut open, 
was found to contain the garments of the unfortunate 
man who had been captured by it. Similar stories of 
the prowess of crocodile charmers are told by the 
Javanese. 1 

I shall now proceed to describe the methods and 
ceremonies used for the catching of crocodiles. The 
following is a description by Mr. J. H. M. Robson, of 
Selangor, of the most usual method, at all events in 
Selangor, but it would appear from remarks upon 
the subject in Dr. Denys' work, that live as well 
as dead bait is commonly used : 

' " A small piece of hard wood, about 6 in. or 8 in. 
long, and about three-quarters of an inch thick, is 

1 Rewritten from Sel. Journ. vol. iii. No. 19, pp. 309-312. 


sharpened at both ends, and to the middle of this 
the end of a yard of twine is firmly fastened, the 
twine having about a dozen strands just held together 
by say a couple of knots, so as to prevent the crocodile 
from biting it through, as the strands simply get 
between his teeth ; to the other end of this twine is 
fastened a single uncut rattan, at least 20 feet long, 
which can be only a quarter of an inch in diameter, 
but may with advantage be a little bigger; a small 
stick affixed to the end of the line, to act as a visible 
float, completes this part of the gear. Probably a 
crocodile will eat anything, but he is certainly partial 
to chicken at least that bait is always successful in 
the Sepang river so, having killed some sort of fowl, 
the body is cut right through the breast lengthways 
from head to tail, and the small piece of pointed hard 
wood inserted, and the bird bound up again with string. 
Next, two pieces of light wood are nailed together, 
forming a small floating platform about a foot square, 
and on this the fowl is placed, raised on miniature 
trestles. The small platform thus furnished is placed 
in a likely spot near the bank, and the rattan line is 
hitched over a small branch or a stake, so that the 
bait platform may not be carried away by the tide. 
By the next morning the rattan line, bait and platform 
may all have disappeared, which probably means that 
the crocodile, having swallowed the fowl, has gone off 
with the rattan in tow, a tug being sufficient to set it 
free, whilst the platform, thus released, has drifted 
away. A crocodile will try the aggressive sometimes, 
so, when going in pursuit, it is better to have a boat 
than a sampan? but Malay paddles are the most 
convenient in either case. It is also advisable to have 

1 A native-built canoe hollowed out of a tree-trunk is no doubt referred to. 


a second man with a rifle. The crocodile has probably 
a favourite place up-stream, so the boatmen paddle up 
on the look-out for the rattan (which always floats), 
finding it at length close to the mangrove roots 
bordering on the river, perhaps. The boat-hook picks 
up the floating-stick end of the line, and, with a couple 
of boatmen on to this and a crocodile at the other end, 
with the small pointed hard wood stick across his 
throat, the excitement begins. The crocodile plunges 
about amidst the mangrove roots under the water, and 
then makes a rush ; the rattan is paid out again and 
the boat follows ; then he rushes under the boat, 
perhaps at the boat, whilst the line is steadily pulled 
in. This sort of thing may last some time, but the 
only thing to be afraid of is the rattan's getting twisted 
round a bakau^ root under water, which might 
prevent a capture ; otherwise, after a good deal of 
playing of a rather violent nature, the continual 
pulling of the rattan-holders in the boat, or his own 
aggressiveness, induces him to show his head above 
the surface, whereat the rifles crack, and the crocodile 
dies, though often not till four or five bullets have been 
put into different parts of his body." 2 

I will now proceed to describe the religious 
ceremonies which accompany this performance. 

The following outline of the ceremonies used in 
catching a crocodile who is known to be a man-eater, 
was taken down by me from the mouth of a noted 
crocodile- wizard on the Langat river. First, you 
take strips of bark of a river-side bush or tree called 
baru-baru (which must be cut down at a single 
stroke), and fasten them together at each end only, 

1 Mangrove, of various species, * Sel. Journ. vol. i. No. 22, pp. 

chiefly Rhizophorca, 3 50-3 5 1 . 


so that they form a rope with divided (unravelled) 
strands. This will form that part of your tackle which 
corresponds to the gut (perambuf) of a fishing line, 
(i.e. the part just above the hook), and the advantage 
of it is that the loose strands get between the 
crocodile's teeth, and prevent it from being bitten 
through as a rope would certainly be. 

Next, you take a piece of the bottommost rung of 
a house-ladder (anak tangga bongsu), and sharpen it 
to a point at both ends, so as to form a cross-piece 
(palang) such as will be likely to stick in the crocodile's 
throat. Having fastened one end of the "gut" round 
the middle of the cross-piece, and the other to your 
rattan line, the length of which may be from ten to fifteen 
fathoms or so, according to the depth of the river at 
the spot where the crocodile is supposed to lie, you 
must next cut down a young tree to serve as the pole 
(chanckang) to which the floating platform and bait 
may be subsequently attached. This pole may be of 
any kind of wood except bamboo ; so when you have 
found a suitable tree, take hold of it with the left hand 
and chop at it thrice with the right, saying a charm 
as you do so 

" Peace be with you, O Prophet Tetap, in whose charge is the 


Peace be with you, O Prophet Noah, Planter of Trees, 
I petition for this tree to serve as a mooring-post for my 

crocodile-trap ; 

If it is to kill him (the crocodile), do you fall supine, 
If it is not to kill him, do you fall prone." 1 

These last two lines refer to the omens which are 
taken from the way the tree falls ; the " supine " 
position being that of a crocodile which has "turned 

1 Vide App. cxxviii. 


turtle," whereas the prone position would be its natural 
attitude as it swims. 

Then start making the floating platform or raft 
(rakif) by chopping a plantain stem (any kind will do) 
into three lengths (di-ttratkan tigd), and then skewering 
these lengths together at their ends so as to form a 

Into the apex of this triangle firmly plant the lower 
end of a strong and springy rod, making the upper 
end curve over slightly in a forward direction (di-pas- 
ang-nya kayu melentor ka-atas) and securing it in 
its position by two lashings, which are carried down 
from its tip and fastened to the two front corners of 
the triangle. Then utter the charm and plant the 
pole by the river-side in the spot you have selected, 
holding your breath and making believe that you 
are King Solomon (di-sifatkan kita Raja Suleiman] as 
it sinks into the ground. The charm consists of 
these lines : 

" Peace be with you, O Prophet Khailir, 
In whose charge is the water; 
Peace be with you, O Prophet Ttap, 
In whose charge is the earth ; 
Pardon, King of the Sea, Deity of Mid-currents, 
I ask only for the ' guilty ' (crocodiles), 
The innocent do you assist me to let go, 
And drive out only the guilty which devoured So-and-so. 
If you do not do so, you shall die," etc. 

Now prepare the bait. To do this you must kill a 
fowl (in the orthodox way), cut it partly open and 
insert the ladder- rung into its body, wrapping the 
flesh and feathers round it, and binding the whole 
>ird seven times round and seven times across with 
piece of rattan, not forgetting, however, to observe 
silence and hold your breath as you pass the first 


rattan lashing round the fowl's carcase. When you 
have finished binding it up as directed, chew some 
betel-leaf and eject (semborkan) the chewed leaf upon 
the fowl's head, repeating the appropriate charm. 1 
Then hook the bait (sangkutkan umpan) on to the 
tip of the bent rod (on no account tie it on, as it 
must be left free for the crocodile to swallow), and 
having prepared the wonted accessories including 
three chews of betel - leaf, a richek of ginger (halia 
bara sa-rickek\ and seven white pepper-corns (lada 
sulah tujoh biji} breathe (jampikan) upon the betel- 
leaf, and at the end of the invocation eject the 
chewed betel-leaf upon the head of the cock intended 
for the bait. 

The charm to be recited (which makes allusion 
to the fable concerning the supposed origin of the 
crocodile) runs as follows : 

" Follow in procession, follow in succession, 
The ' Assembly-flower ' begins to unfold its petals ; 
Come in procession, come in succession, 
King Solomon's self comes to summon you. 
Ho, Si Jambu Rakai, I know your origin ; 
Sugar-cane knots forty-four were your bones, 
Of clay was formed your body ; 
Rootlets of the areca-palm were your arteries, 
Liquid sugar made your blood, 
A rotten mat your skin, 
And a mid-rib of the thatch-palm your tail, 
Prickles of the pandanus made your dorsal ridge, 
And pointed berembang suckers your teeth. 2 
If you splash with your tail it shall break in two, 
If you strike downwards with your snout it shall break in two, 

1 FzafeApp. cxxx. central shoot or cabbage of a cocoa-nut 

2 This and the preceding lines (umbi niyor), its blood of saffron, and 
clearly refer to the fable quoted by Sir its eyes from the star of the east ; 
W. E. Maxwell. There are, however, another asserting that its dorsal ridge 
many differences in minor details, one was manufactured (by Siti Fatimah) 
version asserting that the head of the from the eaves of the thatch. 

first crocodile was made from the 


If you crunch with your teeth they shall all be broken. 

Lo, Si Jambu Rakai, I bind (this fowl) with the sevenfold binding, 

And enwrap it with the sevenfold wrapping 

Which you shall never loosen or undo. 

Turn it over in your mouth before you swallow it 

O, Si Jambu Rakai, accept this present from Her Highness 

Princess Rundok, from Java : l 
If you refuse to accept it, 
Within two days or three 

You shall be .... choked to death with blood, 
Choked to death by Her Highness Princess Rundok, from Java. 
But if you accept it, 

A reach up-stream or a reach down-stream, there do you await me ; 
It is not my Word, it is King Solomon's Word ; 
If you are carried down-stream see that you incline up-stream, 
If you are carried up-stream see that you incline down-stream, 
By virtue of the Saying of King Solomon, ' There is no god but 

God,' " etc. 

Then take a canoe paddle (to symbolise the crocodile's 
tail) and some strong thread, fasten one end of the 
thread to the front of the floating platform, and the 
other end to the bow of your boat, back water 
till it grows taut, and strike the surface of the water 
thrice with the aforesaid " mock " crocodile's tail. If 
the first time you strike it the sound is clearest (terek 
bunyi) it is an omen that the crocodile will swallow 
the bait the first day ; if the second time, it will be 
the second day when he does so ; if the third time, 
it will be the third day. But every time you strike 
the water you must say to yourself, " From Fatimah 
was your origin " (Mani Fatimah asal 'kau jadi), in 
order to make the crocodile bold. After striking the 
water you may go home and rest ; but you must get 
up again in any case at about two in the afternoon 
(dlohor\ and whatever happens you must remember 

1 Her Highness Princess Rundok, evidently the name given to the fowl 
as appears from the line below, in used as a bait, 
which she is again referred to, is 


never to pass underneath a low overhanging bough 
(because such a bough would resemble the bent rod 
of the floating platform), and never (for the time 
being) to eat your curry without starting by swallow- 
ing three lumps of rice successively. If you do 
this it will help the bait to slide more easily down 
the crocodile's throat, and in the same way you must 
never, until the brute is safely landed, take any bones 
out of the meat in your curry if you do, the wooden 
cross-piece is sure to get loose and work out of the 
fowl so it is just as well to get somebody to take 
the bones out of your meat before you begin, other- 
wise you may at any moment be compelled to 
choose between swallowing a bone and losing all your 

I will pass on to the final capture. The crocodile 
has taken the bait, we will say, and with the last of the 
ebb, not unfrequently in a perilously rickety boat, you 
go out to look for the tell-tale end of the line that 
floats up among the forked roots of the mangrove 
trees. First you must go to the place where you left 
the floating platform ; take hold of the pole to which 
it is moored and press it downwards into the river- 
bottom, saying (to the hooked crocodile) as you do 
so : 

" Do not run away, 

Our agreement was a cape (further) up-stream, 
A cape (further) down-stream." l 

(Here hold your breath and press upon the pole.) 
Then wait for the tide to turn, search for the end 
of the line (which, being of rattan, is sure to float) 

1 Jangan angkau lari ! 
Perjanjian kita sa-tanjong ka hulu, 
Sa-tanjong ka hilir. 


up and down the river banks, and when you find it 
take hold of the end and give it three tugs, repeating 
as you do so this " crippling charm " : 

" I know the origin from which you sprang, 
From Fatimah did you take your origin. 
Your bones (she made from) sugar-cane knots, 
Your head from the cabbage of a cocoa-nut palm, 
The skin of your breast from the leaf-case of a palm, 
Your blood from saffron, 
Your eyes from the star of the east, 

Your teeth from the pointed suckers of the berembang tree, 
Your tail from the sprouting of a thatch-palm." 

As you utter the last words give the end of the line 
three twists (piok) and then clench the teeth upon it 
(katup di gigi) thrice, holding your breath as you 
do so ; then jerk it (rentafc) thrice and haul upon it 
(runtun) ; if you feel much resistance slack it off 
again and repeat the ceremony, using the " crippling 
charm " as before, " until you break all the bones in 
his body." Besides this, in order to drive the " mis- 
chief" out of the crocodile, you may say : 

" Pardon, King of the Sea, God of Currents, 
I wish to drive the 'mischief out of this crocodile." 1 

And strike the water and middle of the line with the 
end of the line itself. 

Now you haul on the line, and the crocodile comes 
up to the top with a rush, and the fun begins. As 
he comes up to the surface you ask him, " Was it you 
who caught So-and-so ? " And if he wishes to reply 
in the affirmative he will bellow loudly. When he 
does so, say, " Wind yourself up " (" lilit "), and he will 
wind the line round his muzzle. And when you want 

1 Tabek Raja di Lout, Mambang 2 Angkau mfnangkap Si Anu ? 

Tali Harus, 
Aku 'nak buang badi buaya ini. 


to kill him, chop across the root of his tail with a 
cutlass ; this will kill him at once. 

I may add that it is not generally wise to keep a 
captured crocodile alive overnight, as he happens to be 
one of the clientele of a certain powerful hantu (spirit) 
named Langsuir^ who comes to the assistance of his 
follower at night and endows him with supernatural 
strength, thus enabling him, if he is not very suffici- 
ently tied up, to get loose, which might be awkward. 
You should also never bring one into the house, on 
account of an understanding, prejudicial to yourself, 
which exists between him and the common house- 
lizard (chichak). 

Of the folklore which is concerned with other 
classes of " reptilia " that which deals with Snakes is 
the most important. 

" The gall-bladder of the python, uler sawak, is 
in great request among native practitioners. This 
serpent is supposed to have two of these organs, one 
of which is called lampedu idup, or the live gall- 
bladder. It is believed that if a python is killed and 
this organ is cut out and kept, it .will develop into 
a serpent of just twice the size of that from which 
it was taken. The natives positively assert that the 
python attains a length of sixty to seventy feet, and 
that it has been known to have killed and eaten a 

" One of the pit vipers is exceedingly sluggish in 
its movements, and will remain in the same place for 
days together. One individual that was watched, lay 
coiled up on the branch of a tree for five days, and 
probably would have remained much longer, but at 
the end of that time it was caught and preserved. 

1 Vide Chap. VI. pp. 325-327, infra. 


The Malays call it uler kapak daun, and they say 
that it is fed three times a day by birds, who bring 
it insects to eat. One man went so far as to say 
that he had actually once seen some birds engaged 
in feeding one of these beautiful bright -green 
snakes." * 

In Selangor, as in Perak, the "live gall-bladder" 
of the python will (it is believed), if kept in a jar, 
develop into a serpent ; when dried it is in great 
request as a remedy for small-pox. The story that 
Mr. Wray tells of the pit viper (ular kapak daun) is 
in Selangor told of a snake called chintamani. 
Selangor Malays say that it was once upon a time 
a Raja of the country, and that the birds which 
bring it food were then its subjects. A Malay told 
me that he once saw this operation, and that the 
birds fed it with insects. It is reputed to be a 
perfectly harmless snake, and it is considered ex- 
tremely lucky to keep one of the species in one's house, 
or even to see it. It is described as of a bright and 
glittering blue 2 colour (biru berkilat-kilaf], and is 
frequently referred to in charms, especially those 
connected with the Rice-soul ceremony, and is some- 
times said to spring from the egg of the chandra- 
wasih or bird of paradise. 

The cobra (ular tedong] is said to have a bright 
stone (kemala or gemala) 3 in its head, the radiance 
of which causes its head to be visible on the darkest 
night. A " snake bezoar " (guliga ular) is also said 

1 Mr. L. Wray in " Perak Museum 3 I have heard this same word used 
Notes," quoted in the Selangor Journal, to describe a sort of unnatural " glow " 
vol. iii. No. 6, p. 94. which was supposed to illumine certain 

2 Other accounts make it out to be parts of the country at night ; one such 
of a golden colour. Vide p. 506, region being a portion of the coast at 
infra. Lukut in Sungei Ujong. 


to be occasionally found in the back of a snake's 
head (?), whilst the snake-stone (batu ular) is carried 
in its mouth. 

This batu ular is a prize for the possession of 
which snakes are not unfrequently believed to fight, 
and appears to correspond to the pearl for which in 
Chinese legendary lore the dragons of that country 
were believed to engage in mortal combat. A Malay 
remarked to me that it was always worth while if one 
came upon two snakes thus engaged to kill them both, 
as one of them was sure to possess this much-coveted 
stone, which is said to confer an almost certain victory 
upon its possessor. 

Another species of "snake-stone," which is said to 
be manufactured by Pawangs from gold, silver, 
amalgam (of silver and gold), tin, iron, and quicksilver, 
is called Buntat Raksa, and is said to be invaluable 
in case of snake-bite. It is believed that this stone 
will adhere to the wound, and will not fall off until it 
has sucked out all the poison. One of these stones, 
which was sold to me in Selangor for a dollar, 
was about an inch long and oval in shape ; it was 
evidently made of some mixture of metals, and was 
perforated so as to enable it to be carried on a 

The ular gantang \s said to be a snake, though from 
the description given it would seem more likely to be 
some species of slow- worm or blind-worm. It is only 
a "few inches" long, and is "black," and there is said 
to be little if any difference between its head and its 
tail. It is considered to be extremely lucky, and when 
a Malay meets it, he spreads out his head -cloth or 
turban on the ground, and allows it to enter, when he 
carries it home and keeps it. 


To dream of being bitten by a snake is thought to 
portend success in a love affair. 1 

"A horned toad, known as katak bertandok, but 
not the common one of that name (Megalophrys 
nasuta, Gunther), has a very bad reputation with the 
Malays. It is said to live in the jungle on the hills, 
and wherever it takes up its abode all the trees and 
plants around wither and die. So poisonous is it, that 
it is dangerous even to approach it, and to touch or be 
bitten by it is certain death. 

" The bite of the common toad (Bufo melanostictus, 
Cantor) is also said to prove fatal. That toads have 
no teeth is an anatomical detail that does not seem to 
be thought worthy of being taken into account. 

" The supposed venomous properties of this useful 
and harmless tribe have a world -wide range. In 
Shakespeare many allusions to it are made ; one of 
them, which mentions the habit of hibernation pos- 
sessed by those species which inhabit the colder parts 
of the earth, says 

' In the poison'd entrails throw, 
Toad, that under coldest stone 
Days and nights hast thirty-one, 
Swelter'd venom sleeping got, 
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.' 

" In another, reference is made to the toad-stone, 
which seems to be represented in Malayan tradition 
by the pearl carried in the bodies of the hamadryad, 
the cobra, and the bungarus, the three most deadly 
snakes of the Peninsula : 

' Sweet are the uses of adversity, 
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, 
Wears yet a precious jewel in its head.' 

1 Clifford, In Court and Kampong, p. 189. 


" There is some foundation of fact for the popular 
belief, as toads secret an acrid fluid from the skin, 
which appears to defend them from the attacks of car- 
nivorous animals." l 

It may not be out of place to give here a Malay 
tradition about a species of snail : 

" A strange superstition is attached to a small snail 
which frequents the neighbourhood of the limestone 
hills in Perak. It belongs to the Cyclophorida, and 
is probably an Alycceus. Among the grass in the 
shadow of a grazing animal these creatures are to be 
discovered, and if one of them is crushed it will be 
found to be full of blood, which has been drawn in a 
mysterious way from the veins of the animal through 
its shadow. Where these noxious snails abound, the 
cattle become emaciated and sometimes even die from 
the constant loss of blood. In the folklore of other 
countries many parallels to this occur, but they differ 
in either the birds, bats, or vampires, who are supposed 
to prey on the life-blood of their fellows, going direct 
to the animals to suck the blood, instead of doing so 
through the medium of their shadows. " : 


Fish are in many cases credited by the Malay 
peasant with the same portentous ancestry as that 
which he attributes to some of the larger animals and 

" Many Malays refuse to eat the fresh-water fish 
called ikan belidah* on the plea that it was originally 

1 Selangor Journal, vol. iii. No. 6, ikan lidah-lidah and letidak, probably 
p. 92. derived from lidah, a tongue, owing 

2 Hid., p. 91. to its shape. This fish is sometimes 

3 A kind of flat fish (sole ?), also called sisa Nal/i, or the " Prophet's 



a cat. They declare that it squalls like a cat when 
harpooned, and that its bones are white and fine like 
a cat's hairs. Similarly the ikan tumuli is believed to 
be a human being who has been drowned in the river, 
and the ikan kalul to be a monkey transformed. Some 
specially favoured observers have seen monkeys half 
through the process of metamorphosis half-monkey 
and half-fish." 1 

Similarly, the Dugong (Malay duyong] is asserted 

leavings," the story being that it had 
originally the same amount of flesh 
on both sides, but that the Prophet 
Muhammad, having eaten the whole side 
of one of these fish (which had been 
cooked and served up to him as a meal) 
cast the remaining side back into the 
sea, whereupon it revived and com- 
menced swimming about as if nothing 
had happened, retaining, however, the 
shape of a flat fish to the present day. 

Cp. the following note in Sale's 
Translation of the Kordn : 

"This miracle is thus related by the 
commentators. Jesus having, at the re- 
quest of his followers, asked it of God, 
a red table immediately descended, in 
their sight, between two clouds, and was 
set before them, whereupon he rose up, 
and having made the ablution, prayed, 
and then took off the cloth which 
covered the table, saying, In the name 
of God, the best provider of food. What 
the provisions were with which this 
table was furnished is a matter wherein 
the expositors are not agreed. One 
will have them to be nine cakes of 
bread and nine fishes ; another, bread 
and flesh ; another, all sorts of food, 
except flesh ; another, all sorts of food 
except bread and flesh ; another, all 
except bread and fish ; another, one 
fish, which had the taste of all manner 
of food ; and another, fruits of paradise, 
but the most received tradition is that 
when the table was uncovered, there 
appeared a fish ready dressed, without 
scales or prickly fins, dropping with 
fat, having salt placed at its head and 
vinegar at its tail, and round it all sorts 

of herbs, except leeks, and five loaves 
of bread, on one of which there were 
olives, on the second honey, on the 
third butter, on the fourth, cheese, and 
on the fifth, dried flesh. They add 
that Jesus, at the request of the apostles, 
showed them another miracle, by re- 
storing the fish to life, and causing its 
scales and fins to return to it, at which 
the slanders -by being affrighted, he 
caused it to become as before ; that 
1300 men and women, all afflicted 
with bodily infirmities or poverty, ate 
of these provisions and were satisfied, 
the fish remaining whole as it was at 
first ; that then the table flew up to 
heaven in the sight of all ; and every 
one who had partaken of this food were 
delivered from their infirmities and mis- 
fortunes ; and that it continued to 
descend for forty days together at 
dinner-time, and stood on the ground 
till the sun declined, and was then 
taken up into the clouds. Some of the 
Mohammedan writers are of opinion 
that this table did not really descend, 
but that it was only a parable ; but 
most think the words of the Koran are 
plain to the contrary. A further tradi- 
tion is, that several men were changed 
into swine for disbelieving this miracle, 
and attributing it to magic art ; or, as 
others pretend, for stealing some of the 
victuals from off it. Several other 
fabulous circumstances are also told 
which are scarce worth transcribing." 
Sale's Kor&n Trans, ch. v. p. 87, 

i Maxwell mJ.R.A.S,, S.B., No. 7, 
p. 26. 


by some Malays to have sprung from the remains of a 
pig, which Muhammad himself dined off before he pro- 
nounced pork to be the accursed thing. Being cast by 
the Prophet into the sea, it revived and took the shape 
of the dugong, in which shape it is still to be found off 
the coast of Lukut and Port Dickson, where it feeds 
upon sea -grass (rumput setul\ in common with a 
species of small tripang or b^che-de-mer^ 

The origin of the Eel (ikan tiluf) is derived from 
a stem of the gli-gli plant ; the " white-fish " (ikan 
puteh] from splinters, or rather shavings of wood (fatal 
kayu or tarahan kayu] ; the senunggang fish from 
the long -tailed monkey (kra) ; the aruan fish from 
a frog (kataK) or lizard (mengkarong) ; the bujok 
fish from charred fire-logs (puntong api] ; the telan 
fish from the creeping roots of the yam (sulur kladi] ; 
and so on. There is even the leaf of a certain tree 
which is sometimes said to turn into a fish (the ikan 
belidah)? while the following story is held to account 
for the origin of the Porpoise : 

Once upon a time there was a fishing- wizard 
(Pawang Pukat) who had encountered nothing but 
misfortune from first to last, and who at length de- 
termined to put forth all his skill in magic in one last 
desperate effort to repay the burden of debt which 
threatened to crush him. One day, therefore, having 
tried his luck for the last time, and still caught nothing, 
he requested his comrades to collect an immense 
quantity of mangrove leaves in their boat. Having car- 
ried these leaves out to the fishing-ground, he scattered 

1 The tears of the dugong are be- the sea, the Malays have their mermaids, 

lieved to be an exceedingly potent love- of which the dugong is the probable 

charm. F/i&Swettenham, Unaddressed origin. J.I. A., i. 9." Quoted by 

Letters, p. 217. Denys, Diet. Brit. Mai., s.v. Mermaid. 

" Like most nations dwelling near 2 Vide y however, supra. 


them on the surface of the water, together with a few 
handfuls of parched and saffron-stained rice, repeating 
a series of most powerful spells as he did so. The 
next time they fished, the leaves had turned into fish 
of all shapes and sizes, and an immense haul of fish 
was the result. The wizard then gave directions for 
the payment in full of all his debts and the division 
of the balance among his children, and then without 
further warning plunged into the sea only to reappear 
as a porpoise. 

"A species of fish-like tadpole, 1 found at certain 
seasons of the year in the streams and pools, is sup- 
posed to divide when it reaches maturity, the front 
portion forming a frog and the after-part or tail becom- 
ing the fish known as ikan kli, one of the cat-fishes or 
Siluridtz. In consequence of this strange idea many 
Malays will not eat the fish, deeming it but little better 
than the animal from which it is supposed to have been 

" The ikan kli is armed with two sharp barbed spines 
attached to the fore-part of the pectoral fins, and can 
and does inflict very nasty wounds with them, when 
incautiously handled. The spines are reputed to be 
poisonous, but it is believed that if the brain of the 
offending fish is applied to the wound, it will act as a 
complete antidote to the poisonous principle, and the 
wound will heal without trouble. The English cure 
for hydrophobia that is, ' the hair of the dog that 
bit you ' will occur to all as a modification of the 

J o 

same idea. 

1 Mr. Wray no doubt refers to the the hinder part develops into the ikan 

Prudu (tadpole), the upper half of lembat. 

which is declared by Selangor Malays * Sel. Journ. vol. iii. No. 6, p. 93. 

to develop into a frog (katak), while 


The fish called seluang is used for purposes of 
magic. It is supposed that any one who pokes out its 
eyes with a special needle (which must be one out of a 
score the packets being made up in scores and must 
possess a torn eye) will be able to inflict blindness, by 
sympathy, upon any person against whom he has a 
grudge. 1 

The fish called kedera is supposed to change 
into a sea-bird. 

I will now proceed to describe the ceremony which 
is supposed to secure an abundant catch of fish in the 

In January 1897 I witnessed the ceremony of 
sacrificing at the fishing-stakes (menyemah b'lat] which 
took place at the hamlet of Ayer Hitam (lit. " Black- 
water"), in the coast district of Kuala Langat (Se- 
langor). The chief performer of the rites was an old 
Malay named Bilal Umat, who had owned one of the 
fishing-stakes in the neighbourhood for many years 
past, and had annually officiated at the ceremony 
which I was about to witness. I and my small party 
arrived in the course of the morning, and were received 
by Bilal Umat, who conducted us to the long, low 
palm-thatch building (bangsal kelong), just above high- 
water mark, in which he and his men resided during 
the fishing-season. Here we found that a feast was 
in course of preparation, but what most attracted my 
attention was the sight of three large sacrificial basket- 
work trays, 2 each about 2^ feet square, and with high 
fringed sides which were suspended in a row from the 
roof of the verandah, on the seaward side of the build- 

1 Vide App. cclxxiv. Malays to contain offerings to the 

2 These were trays of the kind spirits. For fuller details, cp. pp. 414- 
called anchak which are used by the 422, infra. 



ing. These trays were empty, but had been lined 
with banana leaves to prepare them for the reception 
of the offerings, which latter were displayed upon a 
raised platform standing just in front of them. 


Direction of shoal and 
fishing -stakes where 
the other two trays 
were suspended. 

Raised platform 

I I (with offerings, before the loading of the trays). 

fro "cm R 

Three trays. 


Bangsal Kelong. 


O Tree where one of the trays was suspended. 
FIG. i. Ceremony of sacrificing at the fishing-stakes. 

Shortly after our arrival the loading of the trays 
commenced. First Bilal Umat took a large bowl of 
parched rice, and poured it into the trays, until the 
bottom of each tray was filled with a layer of parched 
rice about an inch in depth. 

Next he took a bowl of saffron-stained rice, and 
deposited about five portions of it in the centre and 
four corners of each tray ; then he made a similar dis- 
tribution of small portions of washed rice, of sweet 
)Otatoes (KledeK], of yams (k'ladi), of tapioca (ubi 
kayu), of bananas (pisang), and betel - leaf (sirik) 
there being two sets, one cooked and one uncooked, 
of each of these portions, except the last. Finally, he 


added one cigarette to each portion, the cigarette being 
intended for the spirits to smoke after their meal ! 

A fine black goat, " without blemish and without 
spot," had been killed by Bilal Umat early that morn- 
ing, and he now deposited its head in the middle of the 
central tray, two of the feet in the middle of the right- 
hand tray, and the other two feet in the middle of that 
on the left. To each of these three central portions 
were now added small portions of the animal's viscera 
(liver, spleen, lights, tripe, heart, etc.), and then the 
small diamond-shaped (ketupaf) and cylindrical (lepaf] 
rice-bags * were suspended in the usual manner. A 
wax taper was added to each portion of each tray, and 
the loading of the trays declared complete. 

Everything being now ready, Bilal Umat carried a 
smoking censer thrice round the row of trays (walking 
always towards the left), and then lighting the five wax 
tapers of the left-hand tray, directed two of his men to 
take down this tray and sling it on a pole between them. 
This they did, and we set offin procession alongthesandy 
foreshore at the back of the building until we came to 
a halt at a spot about fifty yards off, where Bilal Umat 
suspended the tray from the branch of a mangrove-tree 
about five feet from the ground. This done, he faced 
round towards the land, and breaking off a branch of 
the tree, gave utterance to three stentorian cooees, 
which he afterwards informed me were intended to 
notify the Land Spirits (Orang darat, lit. " Land Folk") 
of the fact that offerings were awaiting their accept- 
ance. Returning to the house, he manufactured one 
of the leaf-brushes 2 which the Malays always used 

1 For details of a similar ceremony, mony which is to be performed. In 
vide pp. 416-418, infra. this case leaves or sprays of the follow- 

2 The composition of these brushes ing plants were used : 
varies apparently according to the cere- I. Sapenoh, 



for the " Neutralising Rice-paste " (tepong tawar) 
rite, and we then started in a couple of boats for 
the fishing-stakes, taking with us the two remaining 

Of these two trays, one was suspended by Bilal 
Umat from a high wooden tripod which had been 
erected for the purpose, the site selected being the 
centre of a shoal about half-way between the fishing- 
stakes and the house. The third tray, which contained 
the head of the goat (kapala kambing dengan buah- 
nya), was then taken on to the fishing-stakes, Bilal 
Umat disposing of a large quantity of miscellaneous 
offerings which he had brought with him in a basket 
by strewing them upon the surface of the sea as we 
went along. 1 

On reaching the stakes, the Pawang (Bilal Umat) 

2. Ltnjuang merah (the red Dra- 

3. Gandarusa. 

4. Satawar. 

5. Sadingin. 

6. Pulut-pulut (?) or Sflaguri(i) 

7. Mangrove (bakau). 

These leaves were tied together with a 
small creeper called ribu-ribu (a so- 
called ' ' female " variety, which is said 
to have larger leaves than the " male 
variety," being used). For further 
details, vide Chap. III. pp. 78-80, 

1 The following is a list, as correct 
as I was able to make it, of the number 
and order of the offerings which were 
thus distributed : 

1. A portion of parched rice. 

2. A portion of sweet potatoes. 

3. Two (cooked) bananas. 

4. Two Ifpats (small cylindrical 

5. Three (cooked) bananas. 

6. Two kftupats (small diamond- 
shaped bags). 

7. Three yams (k'ladt), 

8. A portion of parched rice. 

9. Three short lengths of the stem 
of the tapioca plant (ubi kayu}. 

10. Three sweet potatoes. 
1 1. Four sweet potatoes. 

12. A portion of uncooked liver 

13. A portion of cooked meat. 

14. Four sweet potatoes. 

15. Three cooked bananas. 
1 6. Three kttupats. 

17. Three (green) bananas. 
1 8. Three kttupats. 

19 ..... 

20. Three green bananas. 



Three sweet potatoes. 
Three yams. 
Three Itpats. 

Two Itpats. 
Five kttupats. 
Two yams. 
Two sweet potatoes. 
One cooked banana. 
Three handfuls of white pulut 

Three handfuls of parched rice. 


suspended the tray from a projecting pole at the sea- 
ward end of the fishing-stakes, 1 and then seating him- 
self upon one of the timbers almost directly underneath 
it, scattered handfuls of saffron-stained rice, "washed" 
rice, and native cigarettes upon the water, just outside 
the two seaward posts at the end of the stakes, and 
emptied out the remainder of the parched rice upon the 
water just inside the " head " of the stakes. Then he 
recited a charm, stirred the bowl of neutralising rice- 
paste (tepong tawar) with the brush of leaves, and 
taking the latter out of the bowl, sprinkled, or rather 
daubed it first upon the two " tide-braces " of the 
stakes (first upon the left " tide-brace," and then upon 
the right), then upon the heads of the two upright 
posts next to the tide-braces, and then delegated the 
brush to two assistants. One of these sprinkled the 
heads of all the (remaining) upright posts in the sea- 
ward compartment of the stakes, while the other 
boarded the big boat belonging to the stakes, and 
sprinkled the boat and all its gear from stem to stern 
(commencing on the left side of the bows, and working 
right down to the stern, and then recommencing on the 
right and working down to the stern again). Finally, 
the same assistant returning to the stakes, washed the 
rice-bowl in the sea just beneath the place where Bilal 
Umat was sitting, and fastened up the leaf-brush to the 
left-hand head-post (kayu puchi kiri) at the seaward 
end of the stakes. To the above account I may add 
that a number of taboos are still pretty rigorously 
enforced by the fishing-wizards (Pawang B'lat) upon 
the coast of Selangor. I was never allowed to take 
either an umbrella or boots into the fishing-stakes 

1 This was one of the tide-braces stakes, the one used being that on the 
which are used to strengthen the left hand looking seaward. 


when I visited them the spirits having, I was told, 
the strongest possible objection to the use of either. 

Other "perpetual taboos" (pantang salama-lama- 
nya) are to bathe without wearing a bathing-cloth 
(mandi ttlanjang], to throw the wet bathing-cloth over 
the shoulder when returning to the house, and to rub 
one foot against the other (gosok satu kaki dengan 
lain). Sarongs, umbrellas, and shoes must never on 
any pretence be worn. I may add that the first pole 
planted is called Turns Tuah (tua ?), and if the 
response of the spirits to the invocation be favourable, 
it is believed that it will enter the ground readily, as if 
pulled from below. The only seven-days' taboo which 
I have heard mentioned (though, no doubt, there are 
many others) is the scrupulous observance of chastity. 

A boat which possesses a knot in the centre of its 
keel, or to which the smell of fish long adheres (p'raku 
peranyir, or perhanyir), is supposed to bring good luck 
to the fishermen. 

There is also a regular "taboo language" used by 
the fishermen, of which the following are examples : 

" Fish = daun kayu (tree-leaves) or sampah laut (jetsam). 
Snake = akar hidup (living creeper). 
Crocodile = batang kayu (tree-log). 
Seaward compartment of the stakes (bunohari) = kurong. n 

At the close of the ceremony Bilal Umat repeated 
to me one of the belong 1 invocations which he had 
just been making use of, and which ran as follows : 

" Peace be with you, God's Prophet, Tap ! 
Peace be with you, God's Prophet, Khizr ! 
Peace be with you, God's Prophet, Noah ! 
Peace be with you, god of the Back-water ! 

1 Kelong is the name given to one like weirs) common on the coasts of the 
of the kinds of fishing-stakes (something Peninsula. 


Peace be with you, god of the c Bajau ' ! 

Peace be with you, god of Mid-currents ! 

Peace be with you, god of the Yellow Sunset-glow ! 

Peace be with you, Old Togok the Wizard ! 

Peace be with you, O Elder Wizard ! 

It is not I who make you this peace-offering, 

It is Old Togok the Wizard who makes it. 

It is the Elder Wizard who makes it, 

By the order of Old Aur Gading (lit. ' Ivory Bamboo '). 

By. virtue of 'There is no god,' " etc. 1 

The following was the charm used by the Pawang 
at the planting of the first pole of a.jerma.1 :*- 

" Peace be with you, Eldest Wizard, First of Wizards, Allah, 
And Musa, the Converser with Allah. 
Sedang Bima, Sedang Buana, 
Sedang Juara, and King of the Sea, 
Come let us all together 
Plant the pole of this jermal." 

Even when fishing with rod and line, a serapah 
(invocation) of some sort, such as the following, was 
generally used : 

" Ho, God of Mid-currents, 
See that you do not agitate my hook ! 
If my hook is to the left, 
Do you go to the right. 
If my hook is to the right, 
Do you go to the left. 
If you approach this hook of mine 
You shall be cursed by the Saying of God," etc. 

1 A different Pawang gave me the Your father's in the tip of the "wings" 

following (alternative) instructions: WetefflSdSt 

' ' When you are about to plant the If in truth we be brothers, 

(first) seaward pole of the fishing-stakes, Do V u lend me vour Assistance.' 

take hold of it and say : " Here P lant the P ole and y : ~ 

' My foot is planted in the very heavens, 

' O Pawang Kisa, Pawang Berima, Si Arjuna, My pole rests against the pillar of the firma- 

King at Sea, ment. 

O Durai, Si Biti is the name of your mother, God lets it down, Muhammad receives it. 

Si Tanjong (Sir Cape) that of your father! Six fathoms to the left.six fathoms to the right, 

In your charge are the points of the capes, in Do you, O family of three, assist in my 

your charge all borders of the shore, maintenance. 

In your charge, too, are the river bars ! May this be granted by God,' etc. 

Your mother's place is on the seaward pole, 2 Jfrmal is another kind of fish-trap, 

your child s at the shoreward end of the j-o- . / .1 ? , 

screens, different from the kelong. 


(Before casting the line, a chew of betel-leaf should 
be thrown into the water.) 

Another very common rhyming charm would 
frequently be addressed to the fish : 

" Swallow (lit. receive) the gut of my line, 
Be it broken sooner than torn from my hands, 
If you tear it from my hands 
Your eye shall be plucked out." 

(d] Fire 


" Procuring fire by friction is an accomplishment 
as common to the Malay as to the North American 
Indian. The process is, however, slightly different. 
While the latter resorts to circular friction, the Malay 
cuts a notch on the converse surface of a bamboo, 
across which he rapidly rubs another piece cut to a 
sharp edge. A fine powder is rubbed away and this 
ignites. Bamboo is also used as a flint with tinder. 
The all -pervading match, however, is alone used in 
all districts under foreign influence." l 

The foregoing description requires to be supple- 
mented, for the method of procuring fire by circular 
friction is hardly (if at all) less common among the 
Malays than the method of cross friction. The 
former process takes the form of the well-known 
"fire-drill," both the block and the upright stick 
being generally made of makang wood. The 
upright stick is frequently worked by a species of 
" bow," such as that used by carpenters, and is kept 
from jumping out of the socket in which it revolves 

1 Denys, Descr. Diet, of Brit. Mai., s.v. Fire. 


by means of a cocoa-nut shell, which is pressed down 
from above. When cross friction is used, a long 
narrow slit is usually cut, following the grain, in the 
convex surface of the piece of bamboo, the dust 
which is rubbed away falling through it and gradually 
forming a little pile which presently ignites. It is 
hardly necessary to cut a notch for the cross-piece, 
as a groove is very quickly worn when the friction 
is started. A species of fire - syringe has also, I 
believe, been collected by Mr. L. Wray in Perak. 


In procuring fire by circular or cross friction the 
performer will often say, by way of a charm 

" The Mouse-deer asks for Fire l 
To singe his mother-in-law's feathers." 

The " mouse-deer's mother-in-law " is the name of a 
small bird, which is said to have very gay plumage of 
five colours and to resemble the green pigeon (flunei) 
in shape, and the explanation of this charm is said 
to be that in the days of King Solomon, when both 
the mouse-deer and his mother-in-law wore their 
human forms, the Mouse -deer was greatly annoyed 
by the conduct of his mother-in-law, who kept dan- 
cing in front of him as he went. A quarrel ensued, 2 
as the result of which they were both transformed 
into the shapes which they now respectively bear ; 
but the mother-in-law has not yet abandoned her 
exasperating tactics, and may still often be seen 

1 PUandok minta" api t cursed his mother-in-law, saying : 
'Nak membakar bulu mfntua-nya. " Kalau betul aku pSmainan Raja 

2 The Mouse-deer is said to have Suleiman angkau bfrsayap. " 


tantalising the Mouse-deer by hopping in front of it 
as it goes along. 

There are still some traces of the influence of 
animistic ideas in that part of Malay folklore which 
is concerned with fire. If an inflammable object, 
such as wood, falls by accident into the fire, a stick 
must be used in extracting it, and the stick left, as 
a substitute, in its place. 

The hearth-fire (api dapor] must never be stepped 
over (di-langkah-nya), nor must the rice-pot which 
stands upon it, as in the latter case the person who 
does so will be "cursed by the Rice." 

Both fire and smoke (fumigation) are a good deal 
used by the Malays for purposes of ceremonial puri- 
fication, but the details of such rites cannot be con- 
veniently discussed except in connection with the 
complete ceremonies of which they form a part ; they 
will accordingly be found under such headings as 
Birth, Adolescence, Marriage, Medicine, and Funerals. 1 

1 Illumination with tiny lamps is Fasting ; and the Malays have to some 
also common on feast-days (hari raya), extent adopted the Chinese penchant 
especially at the end of the Month of for fireworks. 



WE now come to the spirits which are believed to 
attack both women and children at childbirth. 

These are four in number : the Bajang, which 
generally takes the form of a pole-cat (musang) and 
disturbs the household by mewing like a great cat ; 
the Langsuir, which takes the form of an owl with 
long claws, which sits and hoots upon the roof-tree ; 
the Pontianak or Mati-anak, which, as will be seen 
presently, is also a night-owl, and is supposed to be 
a child of the Langsuir, and the Penanggalan, which 
is believed to resemble a trunkless human head with 
the sac of the stomach attached to it, and which flies 
about seeking for an opportunity of sucking the blood 
of infants. 

With the above are often associated the Polong, 
which is described as a diminutive but malicious 
species of bottle -imp, and the Pelesit, which is the 
name given to a kind of grasshopper (or cricket ?), 
but these latter, though often associated with the 
regular birth-spirits, partake also of the character of 




familiar spirits 1 or bottle-imps, and are usually private 

I will now take these spirits in the above order. 
The Bajang, as I have said, is generally described 
as taking the form of a pole -cat (musang), but it 
appears to be occasionally confused with the Pe'lesit. 
Thus a Malay magician once told me that the Bajang 
took the form of a house-cricket, and that when thus 
embodied it may be kept by a man, as the Pe'le'sit 
may be kept by a woman. This statement, however, 
must not be accepted without due reserve, and it 
may be taken as a certainty that the usual conception 
of the Bajang's embodiment is a pole-cat. 2 

I need hardly say that it is considered very danger- 
ous to children, who are sometimes provided with a 
sort of armlet of black silk threads, called a "bajang 
bracelet" (glang bajang), which, it is supposed, will 
protect them against it. On the opposite page will 

1 " To return to the elemental spirits, 
it was explained to me by a Malay, 
with whom I discussed the subject at 
leisure, that apart from the spirits 
which are an object of reverence, and 
which when treated with proper defer- 
ence are usually beneficent, there are 
a variety of others. To begin with, 
spirits (the word used on this occasion 
was hantu) are of at least two kinds 
wild ones, whose normal habitat is the 
jungle, and those that are, so to say, 
domesticated. The latter, which seem 
to correspond to what in Western 
magic are called ' familiars,' vary in 
character with their owners or the 
persons to whom they are attached. 
Thus in this particular village of Bukit 
Senggeh, a few years ago, there was a 
good deal of alarm on account of the 
arrival of two or three strangers believed 
to be of bad character, who were sup- 
posed to keep a familiar spirit of a 

peculiarly malignant disposition, which 
was in the habit of attacking people in 
their sleep by throttling them. One 
or two cases of this kind occurred, and 
it was seriously suggested that I should 
make the matter the subject of a ma- 
gisterial inquiry, which, however, I did 
not find it necessary to do. But the 
familiar spirits are by no means neces- 
sarily evil The chief point of 

importance is to keep these wild spirits 
in their proper place, viz. the jungle, 
and to prevent them taking up their 
abode in the villages. For this reason 
charms are hung up at the borders of 
the villages, and whenever a wild spirit 
breaks bounds and encroaches on human 
habitations it is necessary to get him 
turned out." Blagden in J.R.A.S., 
S.B. No. 29, p. 4. 

2 Vide Klinkert, v. d. Wall, and Pijn- 
appel, sub voce. 


be seen a remarkable drawing l (of which a facsimile 
is here given), which appears to represent the outline 
of a Bajang, " scripturally " modified to serve as a 
counter-charm against the Bajang itself. 2 

The following account of the Bajang is by Sir 
Frank Swettenham : 

" Some one in the village falls ill of a complaint 
the symptoms of which are unusual ; there may be 
convulsions, unconsciousness, or delirium, possibly for 
some days together or with intervals between the 
attacks. The relatives will call in a native doctor, 
and at her (she is usually an ancient female) sug- 
gestion, or without it, an impression will arise that 
the patient is the victim of a bajang. Such an im- 
pression quickly develops into certainty, and any 
trifle will suggest the owner of the evil spirit. One 
method of verifying this suspicion is to wait till the 
patient is in a state of delirium, and then to question 
him or her as to who is the author of the trouble. 
This should be done by some independent person of 
authority, who is supposed to be able to ascertain 
the truth. 

1 This "Bajang" was copied for parts of the Peninsula, however, the 
me by 'Che Sam (for many years Bajang is regarded as one of the 
Malay munshi and clerk at Kuala several kinds of demons which, the 
Lumpur, Selangor), from the original Malays hold, can be enslaved by man 
which was posted up on the door of and become his familiar spirit. Such 
one of his neighbours. The outlines familiars, it is believed, are handed 
of the figure are made up from varying down in certain families as heirlooms, 
combinations of the names " Allah," The master of the familiar is said to 
"Muhammad," " 'Ali," etc., in the keep it imprisoned in a tabong, or 
Arabic character. vessel made from a joint of the bamboo, 

2 "In all parts of the Peninsula which is closed by a stopper made 
the Bajang is said to be of the from the leaves of the Cotyledon ladni- 
male gender, while the Langsuir is ata, the Daun chekar bebek, or Daun 
supposed to be a female. It is usually sadingin, as they are variously termed 
believed by Malays that the Bajang is by the Malays. Both the case and 
merely a malignant spirit which haunts the stopper are prepared by certain 
mankind, and whose presence foretells magic arts before they can be employed 
disaster. In Perak and some other in this way. The familiar is fed with 


" A further and convincing proof is then to call 
in a ' Pawang* skilled in dealing with wizards (in 
Malay countries they are usually men), and if he 
knows his business his power is such that he will 
place the sorcerer in one room, and, while he in 
another scrapes an iron vessel with a razor, the 
culprit's hair will fall off as though the razor had 
been applied to his head instead of to the vessel ! 
That is supposing he is the culprit ; if not, of course 
he will pass through the ordeal without damage. 

" I have been assured that the shaving process is 
so efficacious that, as the vessel represents the head 
of the person standing his trial, wherever it is scraped 
the wizard's hair will fall off in a corresponding spot. 
It might be supposed that under these circumstances 
the accused is reasonably safe, but this test of guilt 
is not always employed. What more commonly 
happens is that when several cases of unexplained 
sickness have occurred in a village, with possibly one 
or two deaths, the people of the place lodge a formal 
complaint against the supposed author of these ills, 
and desire that he be punished. 

" Before the advent of British influence it was the 
practice to kill the wizard or witch whose guilt had 
been established to Malay satisfaction, and such execu- 
tions were carried out not many years ago. 

" I remember a case in Perak less than ten years 
ago, when the people of an up-river village accused 
a man of keeping a bdjang, and the present Sultan, 

eggs and milk. When its master which can only be cured by magic 

wishes to make use of it he sends it agencies. If the Bajang is neglected 

forth to possess and prey upon the by its owner, and if the latter omits to 

vitals of any one whom his malice may feed it regularly, it is said that he often 

select as a victim. The individual falls a victim to his own familiar. " 

thus persecuted is at once seized by Clifford and Swett., Mai. Die., s.v. 

a deadly and unaccountable ailment, Bajang. 


who was then the principal Malay judge in the State, 
told them he would severely punish the bdjang if they 
would produce it. They went away hardly satisfied, 
and shortly after made a united representation to the 
effect that if the person suspected were allowed to 
remain in their midst they would kill him. Before 
anything could be done they put him, his family, and 
effects on a raft and started them down the river. 
On their arrival at Kuala Kangsar the man was given 
an isolated hut to live in, but not long afterwards he 

" The hereditary bdjang comes like other evils, 
the unsought heritage of a dissolute ancestry, but the 
acquired bdjang is usually obtained from the newly- 
buried body of a stillborn child, which is supposed 
to be the abiding-place of a familiar spirit until lured 
therefrom by the solicitations of some one who, at 
dead of night, stands over the grave and by potent 
incantations persuades the bdjang to come forth." x 

"It is all very well for the Kedah ladies to sacrifice 
their shadows to obtain possession of a pelsit, leaders 
of society must be in the fashion at any cost ; but 
there are plenty of people living in Perak who have 
seen more than one ancient Malay dame taken out 
into the river and, despite her protestations, her 
tears, and entreaties, have watched her, with hands 
and feet tied, put into the water and slowly pushed 
down out of sight by means of a long pole with a 
fork at one end which fitted on her neck. Those 
who have witnessed these executions have no doubt 
of the justice of the punishment, and not uncommonly 
add that after two or three examples had been made 
there would always ensue a period of rest from the 

1 Swell., Mai, Sketches, p. 194, seqq. 


torments of the bdjang. \ have also been assured 
that the bdjang, in the shape of a lizard, has been 
seen to issue from the drowning person's nose. That 
statement no doubt is made on the authority of those 
who condemned and executed the victim." 1 

The popular superstition about the Langsuir is 
thus described by Sir William Maxwell : 

" If a woman dies in childbirth, either before 
delivery or after the birth of a child, and before the 
forty days of uncleanness have expired, she is popu- 
larly supposed to become a langsuyar, a flying 
demon of the nature of the ' white lady ' or ' banshee.' 
To prevent this a quantity of glass beads are put in 
the mouth of the corpse, a hen's egg is put under 
each arm-pit, and needles are placed in the palms of 
the hands. It is believed that if this is done the 
dead woman cannot become a langsuyar, as she 
cannot open her mouth to shriek (ngilai) or wave 
her arms as wings, or open and shut her hands to 
assist her flight. " : 

The superstitions about the Langsuir, however, 
do not end here, for with regard to its origin the 
Selangor Malays tell the following story : 

The original Langsuir (whose embodiment is 
supposed to be a kind of night-owl) is described as 
being a woman of dazzling beauty, who died from the 
shock of hearing that her child was stillborn, and had 
taken the shape of the Pontianak. 8 On hearing this 

1 Swett., Mai. Sketches, pp. 198, elfin children." Swett. , Mai. Sketches, 
199. p. 198. 

2 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, p. 28. 3 ' 'Pontianak "appears to be synony- 
Cp. " Langsuior, the female familiar, mous with " Mati-anak," which may 
differs hardly at all from the bdjang, perhaps be a shorter form of Matt 
except that she is a little more baneful, bfranak ("stillborn"); indeed, one 
and when under the control of a man of the charms against the Pontianak 
he sometimes becomes the victim of her which I collected, commenced with the 
attractions, and she will even bear him words, "Pontianak matt bfranak." 


terrible news, she "clapped her hands," and without 
further warning " flew whinnying away to a tree, 
upon which she perched." She may be known by 
her robe of green, by her tapering nails of extraordinary 
length (a mark of beauty), and by the long jet black 
tresses which she allows to fall down to her ankles- 
only, alas ! (for the truth must be told) in order to 
conceal the hole in the back of her neck through which 
she sucks the blood of children ! These vampire-like 
proclivities of hers may, however, be successfully com- 
bated if the right means are adopted, for if you are 
able to catch her, cut short her nails and luxuriant 
tresses, and stuff them into the hole in her neck, she 
will become tame and indistinguishable from an ordi- 
nary woman, remaining so for years. Cases have been 
known, indeed, in which she has become a wife and 
a mother, until she was allowed to dance at a village 
merry-making, when she at once reverted to her 
ghostly form, and flew off into the dark and gloomy 
forest from whence she came. 

In their wild state, a Malay once informed me, 
these woman-vampires are exceedingly fond of fish, 
and once and again may be seen "sitting in crowds 
on the fishing -stakes at the river mouth awaiting 
an opportunity to steal the fish." However that may 
be, it seems curiously in keeping with the following 
charm for " laying " a Langsuir : 

" O ye mosquito-fry at the river's mouth 
When yet a great way off, ye are sharp of eye, 
When near, ye are hard of heart. 
When the rock in the ground opens of itself 
Then (and then only) be emboldened the hearts of my foes and 

opponents ! 

When the corpse in the ground opens of itself 
Then (and then only) be emboldened the hearts of my foes and 
opponents ! 


Models of the Penanggalan and Langsuir, the former being the head on the left. 
Note the length of the Langsuir s nails. 

Page 326. 


May your heart be softened when you behold me, 
By grace of this prayer that I use, called Silam Bayu." 

The " mosquito-fry at the river's mouth " in the first 
line is no doubt intended as an allusion to the Lang- 
suir who frequent the fishing-stakes. 

The Pontianak (or Mati-anak), as has already been 
said, is the stillborn child of the Langsuir, and its 
embodiment is like that of its mother, a kind of night- 
owl. 1 Curiously enough, it appears to be the only one 
of these spirits which rises to the dignity of being 
addressed as a " Jin " or " Genie," as appears from the 
charms which are used for laying it. Thus we find in 
a common charm : 

" O Pontianak the Stillborn, 

May you be struck dead by the soil from the grave-mound. 
Thus (we) cut the bamboo-joints, the long and the short, 
To cook therein the liver of the Jin (Demon) Pontianak. 
By the grace of 'There is no god but God,' " etc. 

To prevent a stillborn child from becoming a Ponti- 
anak the corpse is treated in the same way as that of 
the mother, i.e. a hen's egg is put under each armpit, 
a needle in the palm of each hand, and (probably) glass 
beads or some simple equivalent in its mouth. The 
charm which is used on this occasion will be found in 
the Appendix. 

The Penanggalan is a sort of monstrous vampire 
which delights in sucking the blood of children. The 
story goes that once upon a time a woman was sitting, 
to perform a religious penance (dudok bertapa), in one 
of the large wooden vats which are used by the Malays 
for holding the vinegar made by drawing off the sap 

1 Mr. Clifford (of Pahang), however, beast noises round the graves of chil- 
speaks of "that weird little white dren." In Court and Kampong, p. 
animal, the Mati-&nak, that makes 231. 




of the thatch-palm (menyadap nipaJi], Quite unex- 
pectedly a man came in, and finding her sitting in the 
vat, asked her, " What are you doing there ? " To 
this the woman replied, "What business have you to 
ask ? " but being very much startled she attempted to 
escape, and in the excitement of the moment, kicked 
her own chin with such force that the skin split round 
her neck, and her head (with the sac of the stomach 
depending from it) actually became separated from the 
trunk, and flew off to perch upon the nearest tree. 
Ever since then she has existed as a spirit of evil, 
sitting on the roof-tree whinnying (mengilai) whenever 
a child is born in the house, or trying to force her way 
up through the floor on which the child lies, in order 
to drink its blood. 1 

The only two spirits of this class which now re- 
main are the Polong and the Pelesit, and these, 
as I have said, partake to a great extent of the charac- 

1 Cp., however, "The Penangal, 
that horrible wraith of a woman who 
has died in childbirth, and who comes 
to torment small children in the guise 
of a fearful face and bust, with many 
feet of bloody, trailing entrails in her 
wake." Clifford, loc. tit. 

"He (Mr. M.) said, 'Very well 
then, tell me about the penanggalan 
only, I should like to hear it and to 
write it down in English so that Euro- 
peans may know how foolish those 
persons are who believe in such things." 
I then drew a picture representing a 
woman's head and neck only, with the 
intestines hanging down. Mr. M. 
caused this to be engraved on wood by 
a Chinese, and inserted it with the 
story belonging to it in a publication 
called the Anglo-Chinese Gleaner. And 
I said, ' Sir, listen to the account of 
the penanggalan. It was originally a 
woman. She used the magic arts of a 
devil in whom she believed, and she 
devoted herself to his service night and 

day until the period of her agreement 
with her teacher had expired and she 
was able to fly. Her head and neck 
were then loosened from the body, the 
intestines being attached to them, and 
hanging down in strings. The body 
remained where it was. Wherever the 
person whom it was wished to injure 
happened to live, thither flew the head 
and bowels to suck his blood, and the 
person whose blood was sucked was 
sure to die. If the blood and water 
which dripped from the intestines 
touched any person, serious illness 
immediately followed and his body 
broke out in open sores. The penang- 
galan likes to suck the blood of women 
in childbirth. For this reason it is 
customary at all houses where a birth 
occurs to hang upjeruju 1 leaves at the 
doors and windows, or to place thorns 
wherever there is any blood, lest the 
penanggalan should come and suck it, 

1 A kind of thistle. 



ter of familiar spirits or bottle imps, and are by no 
means confined to a single " role " as the preceding 
ones have been. 

The Polong resembles an exceedingly diminu- 
tive female figure or mannikin, being in point of size 
about as big as the top joint of the little finger. It 
will fly through the air to wherever it is told to 
go, but is always preceded by its pet or plaything 
(p$mainan), the Pelesit, which, as has already been 
said, appears to be a species of house-cricket. When- 
ever the Polong wishes to enter (di-rasoki} a new 
victim, it sends the Pelesit on before it, and as soon as 
the latter, " flying in a headlong fashion (menelentang 
m$nj$rongkong)" has entered its victim's body, which 
it usually does tozY-foremost, and begins to chirp, the 
Polong follows. It is generally hidden away outside 
the house by its owner (Jinjangan), and fed with 
blood pricked from the finger. The description usually 
given of a Polong tallies curiously with the Malay 
definition of the soul. 1 

The last of these spirits, the Pelesit (or house- 

for the penanggalan has, it seems, a many people who have seen the penang- 
dread of thorns in which her intestines galan flying along with its entrails dan- 
may happen to get caught. It is said gling down and shining at night like 
that a penanggalan once came to a fire-flies. 

man's house in the middle of the night " 'Such is the story of the penang- 
to suck his blood, and her intestines galan as I have heard it from my fore- 
were caught in some thorns near the fathers but I do not believe it in the 
hedge, and she had to remain there least. God forbid that I should.'" 
until daylight, when the people saw Hikayat Abdullah, p. 143. 
and killed her. 1 " The origin of the Polong is this : 
" ' The person who has the power of The blood of a murdered man must 
becoming a penanggalan always keeps be taken and placed in a bottle (buK- 
at her house a quantity of vinegar in a bttli, a bottle having a spherical or wide 
jar or vessel of some kind. The use body and a long narrow neck). Then 
of this is to soak the intestines in, for prayers are said over it, and something 
when they issue forth from the body or other is read, I don't know what, but 
they immediately swell up and cannot it has to be learnt. After seven days 
be put back, but after being soaked in of this worship, according to some 
vinegar they shrink to their former size people, or after twice seven days ac- 
and enter the body again. There are cording to others, a sound is heard in 




cricket ?), which is the Polong's " plaything " or pet, 
flies to and fro (rasok sini, rasok sana) till it finds the 
body which its mistress has ordered it to enter, harm 
only being done when it enters tail-foremost, as it 
generally does. It is occasionally caught and kept in 
a bottle by Malay women, who feed it either on 
parched or saffron-stained rice, or on blood drawn 
from the tip of the fourth finger which they prick for 
the purpose, and who, when they wish to get rid of it, 
bury it in the ground. When a sick person is affected 
by a Pelesit (one of the signs of which is to rave about 
cats) 1 the medicine -man comes and addresses the 

the bottle like the chirping of young 
birds. The operator then cuts his 
finger and inserts it into the bottle and 
the Polong sucks it. The person who 
thus supports the Polong is called his 
father, or, if it happens to be a woman, 
she is his mother. Every day the 
parent feeds it with his (or her) blood. 
The object of doing this and the ad- 
vantage to be gained from it are these : 
if he entertains a feeling of anger 
against any one he orders the Polong 
to go and afflict him, that is to say, to 
cause him pain or sickness ; or if a 
third person is at enmity with another 
he goes in secret to the person who 
keeps the Polong, and gives him a sum 
of money to send the Polong to attack 
the person against whom he bears ill- 
will. This is the use of it. The 
person who is tormented by the Polong, 
whether a virgin, or a married woman, 
or a man, cries out and loses conscious- 
ness of what he (or she) is doing, and 
tears and throws off his (or her) cloth- 
ing, biting and striking the people 
near, blind and deaf to everything, and 
does all sorts of other things. Wise 
men are called in to prescribe remedies ; 
some come and chant formulas over the 
head of the patient, others pinch his 
thumb and apply medicines to it. When 
the remedy is successful the sick person 
cries out, ' Let me go, I want to go 
home. ' The doctor replies, ' I will 
not let you go if you do not make 

known who it is that has sent you here, 
and why you have come, and who are 
your father and mother.' Sometimes 
he (the Polong in the patient) remains 
silent and will not confess or give the 
names of his parents ; sometimes he 
confesses, and says ' Let me go, my 
father is such-a-one and lives at such- 
and-such a kampong, and my mother is 
so-and-so. The reason that I have 
come here is that such-a-one came to 
my parents and asked for their aid, and 
gave them a sum of money because he 
bore ill-will against this person ' (or 
whatever the reason may have been). 
Sometimes he makes a false statement, 
and mentions entirely wrong persons in 
order to conceal the names of his 
parents. As soon as the people know 
the name of the person who has con- 
trived the attack and the reason, they 
let him go, and the sick person at once 
recovers his consciousness, but he is 
left weak and feeble. When a Polong 
attacks a person and will confess no- 
thing, the person who is attacked 
shrieks and yells in anger, and after a 
day or two he dies. After death blood 
pours forth bubbling (ber-kopak-kopaK) 
from the mouth, and the whole body is 
blue with bruises. ' ' Hikayat Abdullah, 
p. 143. Notes and Queries, 6". B. R. A.S. 
No. 4, sec. 98, issued with No. 17 of 
the Journal. 

1 Merepet kata kuching. 



Pe'le'sit (or Polong ?), which has taken up its residence 
in the patient's body, with the words : " Who is your 
mother?" To this question the Pe'le'sit replies, 
speaking with the patient's voice, but in a high falsetto 
key, and giving the name of the person who sent it, 
whereupon prompt measures are taken to compel the 
owner to recall it. It now only remains to describe 
the means employed by the Malays to secure one of 
these familiar spirits, which can be guaranteed to cause 
the greatest possible annoyance to your enemy, with 
the least possible trouble on your own part. 

Receipt for securing a PZlZsit 

" Go to the graveyard at night and dig up the 
body of a first-born child whose mother was also first- 
born, and which has been dead less than forty days. 
On digging it up, carry it out to an ant-hill in the open 
ground, ^and there dandle it (di-timang). After a little 
while, when the child shrieks and lolls its tongue out 
(terjelir lidah-nya), bite off its tongue and carry it home. 
Then obtain a cocoa-nut shell from a solitary ' green ' 
cocoa-nut palm (niyor hijaii}, and carry it to a place 
where Three Roads Meet, light a fire and heat the 
shell till oil exudes, dip the child's tongue in the oil, 
and bury it in the heart of the three cross roads (hati 
sempang tiga). Leave it untouched for three nights, 
then dig it up and you will find that it has turned into 
aPelesit." 1 

1 Cp. Clifford, In Court and Kant- the other day, eulogising the advantage 

fongi PP- 230-244. " PSlong and of possessing a familiar spirit (she said 

ptlsit are but other names for bdjang, that, amongst other things, it gave her 

the latter is chiefly used in the state absolute control over her husband and 

of Kedah, where it is considered rather the power of annoying people who 

chic to have a pflrit. A Kedah lady offended her), thus described the 





In or about the seventh month of pregnancy 
(mengandong tujoh bulan} a "Bidan" 1 (sage femme) is 
engaged (menempah\ the ceremony being described as 
follows : 

A copper vessel called cherana (which is some- 
thing like a fruit-dish with a stand or foot to it) is 
filled with four or five peeled areca-nuts, a small block 
of gambier, a portion of lime (kapor sa-per kapor an), 
a "tahil" (sa-tahil] of tobacco, and three or four 
packets (susun) of betel-leaf, and carried to the 
Bidan's house, where it is presented to her with the 
words, " I wish to engage you for my child " (Ini 'ku 
mahu menempah anak 'ku), or words to that effect. 2 

Usually the contents of the cherana are enclosed 

method of securing this useful 
ally : 

" You go out,' she said, ' on the 
night before the full moon, and stand 
with your back to the moon, and your 
face to an ant-hill, so that your shadow 
falls on the ant-hill. Then you recite 
certain jampi (incantations), and bend- 
ing forward try to embrace your shadow. 
If you fail, try again several times, 
repeating more incantations. If not 
successful, go the next night and make a 
further effort, and the night after, if 
necessary three nights in all. If you 
cannot then catch your shadow, wait 
till the same day on the following 
month and renew the attempt. Sooner 
or later you will succeed, and, as you 
stand there in the brilliance of the 
moonlight, you will see that you have 
drawn your shadow into yourself, and 
your body will never again cast a shade. 
Go home, and in the night, whether 
sleeping or waking, the form of a child 
will appear before you and put out its 
tongue ; that seize, and it will remain 
while the rest of the child disappears. 

In a little while the tongue will turn 
into something that breathes, a small 
animal, reptile, or insect, and when you 
see the creature has life put it in a bottle 
and \hepelsit is yours.' 

" It sounds easy enough, and one is 
not surprised to hear that every one in 
Kedah, who is anybody, keeps a p?lsit." 
Swett., Malay Sketches, pp. 197, 198. 

1 No less than seven " Bidans," it is 
said, were formerly requisitioned at the 
birth of a Raja's child, and occasions 
when even nine are mentioned are to 
be met with in Malay romances. The 
most general custom, however, seems 
to have been to summon seven "Bidans" 
only, the number being possibly due 
to the Malay theory of a sevenfold 
soul (v. Soul). The profession was an 
honourable one, and the Bidans received 
the title of " Dato ' (abbreviated to 
'Toh) Bidan " ; but if the child of a Raja 
happened to die, the Bidan who was 
adjudged to be responsible paid the 
penalty with her life. 

2 Vide also N. &* Q. No. 3, sec. 65, 
issued with/../?.^.^., S.., No. 16. 


in small brass receptacles, but on such occasions as the 
present no receptacles are used, the usual accessories 
of the betel-chewing ceremony being deposited in 
the chtrana itself. The Bidan, on receiving the 
cherana, and charming the contents, inverts it, pour- 
ing out (di-chorahkan) its contents upon the floor, and 
taking omens for the coming event from the manner 
in which they fall. 1 She then commences to chew the 
betel-leaf, and when she has taken as much as she 
requires, she generally performs some species of 
divination (tengd dalam petua) in order to ascertain 
the nature of the child's horoscope. This object may 
be achieved in several ways ; e.g. by astrological 
calculations ; by casting up (palak or falakiak) the 
numerical values of the letters of both parents' names, 
in accordance with the abjad, or secret cipher 
alphabet ; 2 by observance of a wax taper fixed upon 
the brim of a jar of water (dian di tepi buyong ayer) ; 
and by observance of a cup of " betel-leaf water " (ayer 

When the time arrives the Bidan is sent for and 
escorted to the spot, where she points out the luckiest 
place in the house for the child to be born. Such a 
spot must not be under the ends of the slats of the 
palm-thatch, but between them, the exact spot being 
discovered by repeatedly dropping the blade of a 
hatchet or cutlass haft downwards into the ground 
below the raised floor of the house, until a spot is 
found wherein it sticks and remains upright. A rattan 
loop (tali anggas) to enable the patient to raise herself 
to a sitting posture, is suspended from the rafters over 

1 If the betel-leaf adheres to the * Vide p. 551, infra, 

chfrana it is a bad sign (uri mtttkat 3 Vide App. clxxxiv. 

tiada mahu k'luar). 


the spot selected, 1 while just exactly beneath it under 
the floor of the house (which is raised on piles like 
the old Swiss lake-dwellings) are fastened a bunch of 
leaves of the prickly pandanus, the " acid " egg-plant, 2 
and a lekar jantan, which is a kind of rattan stand 
used for Malay cooking-pots. The leaves of these 
plants are used because it is thought that their thorns 
will prick any evil spirit 3 which tries to get at the child 
from below, whilst the circular cooking-pot stand will 
act as a noose or snare. Over the patient's head, and 
just under the rafters, is spread a casting-net (Jala), 
together with a bunch of leaves of the red dracsena 
(jenjuangor lenjuang merati) and the "acid" egg-plant. 4 

A big tray (talam) is now filled with a measure of 
uncooked husked rice (tiras sa-gantang), and covered 
over with a small mat of screw-palm leaves (tikar 
mengkuang}. This mat is in turn covered with from 
three to seven thicknesses of fine Malay sarongs (a 
sort of broad plaid worn as a skirt), and these latter 
again are surmounted by a second mat upon which 
the newly-born infant is to be deposited. 

The next process is the purification of mother and 
child by a ceremony which consists of bathing both in 
warm water just not hot enough to scald the skin (ayer 
pesam-pesam jangan melochak kulif), and in which are 

1 So, too, in the report of the Dutch and can be punished by having her 
Expedition to Mid-Sumatra, vol. i. p. stomach filled up with ground glass and 
266, it is stated that delivery took place sherds of earthenware, which will kill 
" in a sitting posture." her in about seven days' time ! 

2 T'rong asam. 4 When the "sickness" is severe, 

3 One account says that the Penang- the Bidan draws upon her almost in- 
galan (or Manjang, i.e. Pemanjangan exhaustible stock of Malay charms, a 
another name for her) if she comes will specimen of which will be found in the 
be caught in this snare, and that next Appendix. Salt and asam are taken 
morning when the fowls are let loose (apparently by the Bidan ?) into the 
out of the fowl-house they will peck at mouth (di-k?mam asam garani) while 
the sac of her stomach to get at its the selected charm is repeated, 
contents. Thus she will be detected, 


leaves of Itfngkuas, kalia, kimyit frus, kunyit, pandan 
bau, areca-palm blossom, and the dried leaves (k$ron- 
song or kZresek) of the pisang Klat. This has to be 
repeated (every?) morning and evening. In most 
places the new-born infant is, as has been said, laid 
upon a mat and formally adopted by the father, who 
breathes into the child's ear 1 a sort of Muhammadan 
prayer or formula, which is called bang in the case 
of a boy, and kamat in the case of a girl. After 
purification the child is swaddled in a sort of papoose ; 
an inner bandage (barut) is swathed round the child's 
waist, and a broad cloth band (kain lampin) is wound 
round its body from the knees to the breast, after which 
the outer bandage (kain bedong) is wound round the 
child's body from the feet to the shoulder, and is worn 
continually until the child is three or four months old, 
or, in Malay parlance, until he has learned to crawl 
(taku meniarap). This contrivance, it is alleged, pre- 
vents the child from starting and straining its muscles. 
Over the child's mat is suspended a sort of small 
conical mosquito-net (kain bochok}, the upper end of 
which is generally stitched (di-semat) or pinned on to 
the top of the parent's mosquito curtain, and which is 
intended to protect the child from any stray mosquito 
or sandfly which may have found its way into the 
bigger net used by his parents. 

1 Vide McNair, Perak and the (twice), ashahadun Muhammad al- 

Malays, p. 231. " The children of the Rasul Allah (twice), hei 'AH al-saleh 

Malays are received into the world quite (twice), hei 'Alt al-faleh (twice), Allahu 

in religious form, prayer being said, akbar (twice), la-ilaha-illa- llah (twice); 

and the Azan or Allah Akbar pro- and the kamat as follows : 

nounced by the father with his lips Allahu akbar (twice), ashahadun la- 

'.close to the tender infant's ear." The tiaha-illa-llah, ashahadun Muhammad 

bang, according to 'Che Sam, a al- Rasul Allah. Hei 1 AH al-saleh, hei 

Malay pandit of Kuala Lumpor, ran 'AH al-faleh, had kamat al-salata(tvt\cz), 

somewhat as follows : Allahu Akbar la-ilaha-illa-' llah. 
(twice), ashahadun la-ilaha-illa- llah 


Next comes the ceremony of marking the forehead 
(chonting muka), which is supposed to keep the child 
from starting and straining itself (jangan terkejut ter- 
kekaii], and from convulsions (sawan), and at the same 
time to preserve it from evil spirits. The following 
are the directions : Take chips of wood from the thin 
end (kapala ?) of the threshold, from the steps of the 
house-ladder, and from the house furniture, together 
with a coat (kesip] of garlic, a coat of an onion, assa- 
fcetida, a rattan cooking-pot stand, and fibre from the 
" monkey-face " of an unfertile cocoa-nut (tampo niyor 
jantan]. Burn all these articles together, collect the 
ashes, and mix them by means of the fore-finger with 
a little " betel- water." 

Now repeat the proper charm, 1 dip the finger in 
the mixture, and mark the centre of the child's fore- 
head, if a boy with a sign resembling what is called a 
bench mark v , if a girl with a plain cross + , and at the 
same time put small daubs on the nose, cheeks, chin, 
and shoulders. Then mark the mother with a line 
drawn from breast to breast (pangkah susu] and a 
daub on the end of the nose (cholek hidong\ If you 
do this properly, a Langat Malay informed me, the 
Evil One will take mother and child for his own wife 
and child (who are supposed to be similarly marked) 
and will consequently refrain from harming them ! 

In addition to the above, if the child is a girl, her 
eyebrows are shaved and a curve drawn in their place, 
extending from the root of the nose to the ear (di- 
pantiskan bentok taji deri muka sampei pelipis). The 
mixture used for marking these curves consists of 
manjakani mixed with milk from the mother's breast. 

Another most curious custom which recalls a parallel 

1 Vide App. cl. 


custom among North American Indians, is occa- 
sionally resorted to for the purpose of altering the 
shape of the child's head. When it is considered too 
long (tVrlampau panjang], a small tightly-fitting "yam 
leaf cap" (songkd daun k'ladi), consisting of seven 
thicknesses of calladium (yam) leaves is used to com- 
press it. This operation is supposed to shorten the 
child's skull, and the person who fits it on to the child's 
head uses the words " Muhammad, short be your 
head " in the case of a boy, and " Fatimah, short be 
your head " in the case of a girl. 

Now comes the ceremony of administering to the 
infant what is called the " mouth-opener" (lit. " mouth- 
splitter," pXmtflah mulut) ; first, you take a green 
cocoa-nut (niyor sungkoran), split it in halves (di-tf lah 
niyor), put a " grain " of salt inside one-half of the shell 
(di-buboh garam sa-buku\ and give it to the child to 
drink, counting up to seven, and putting it to the 
child's mouth at the word seven (letakkan di mulut- 
nyd). Then repeat the ceremony, substituting asam 
(tamarinds?) for the salt. Finally, take a gold ring, 
and after rubbing it against the inside of the cocoa-nut 
(cholek di-dalam niyor), lay it upon the child's lips, 
(letakkan di bibir-nya), saying " Bismillah," etc. Do 
the same with a silver and amalgam (gold and silver) 
ring respectively, and the ceremony will be at an end. 

I may note, in passing, that it is in allusion to the 
above ceremony that you will sometimes hear old men 
say " It's not the first time I tasted salt, I did so ever 
since I was first put into my swinging-cot " (aku makan 
garam dakulu, deripada tatkala naik buayari). 

Sometimes a little "rock" sugar (gula batu] is added 
to make the " mouth-opener " more palatable. 

From the time when the child is about twenty-four 



hours old until it is of the age of three months, it is 
fed with rice boiled in a pot on the fire, "broken" 
(di-lechek) by means of a short broad cocoa-nut 
shell spoon {pelechefc), mixed with a little sugar and 
squeezed into small receptacles of woven cocoa-nut leaf 

Later it is taught to feed at the breast (menetek\ 
which continues until it is weaned by the application 
of bitter aloes (j'adam) to the mother's breasts. 

In the rice-jar (buyong tiras) during this period, a 
stone, a big iron nail, and a " candle-nut " must be kept, 
and a spoon (sendoK) must always be used for putting 
the rice into the pot before boiling it. Moreover, the 
mother, when eating or drinking, must always cross 
her left arm under her breasts (di-ampu susu-nya 
di lengan kiri] leaving the right arm free to bring the 
food to the mouth. 

When the child has been bathed, it is fumigated, 
and deposited for the first time in a swinging-cot (the 
Malay substitute for a cradle) which, according to 
immemorial custom, is formed by a black cloth slung 
from one of the rafters. To fumigate 1 it you take 
leaves of the red dracsena {jenjuang merah], and wrap 
them round first with the casing of the charred torch 
{puntong} used at the severing of the cord (pembuang 

1 Mr. H. N. Ridley, Director of other leaves till one-third of the liquor 
Gardens and Forests at Singapore, in a is evaporated, and the decoction exposed 
pamphlet on Malay Materia Medica to the dew for a night, and the child is 
(dated 1 894) describes a somewhat bathed with it ; or a quantity of road- 
similar ceremony as follows : side rubbish, dead-leaves, sticks, chewed 

' ' When a child suffers from sampuh sugar-cane, etc. is boiled and the child 
pachut, that is to say, when it persist- is bathed in the liquid (it is washed 
ently cries and will not take its food, it afterwards), and it is then smoked over 
is treated in the following way : the a fire consisting of a nest of a weaver- 
leaves of Hedyotis congesta, Br. , a tall bird (sarang tampur), the skin of a 
jungle weed, known as Lidajin \lidah bottle-gourd (labu), and a piece of wood 
jin, lit. Demon's Tongue] or Poko 1 which has been struck by lightning." 
Sampuh Packut, are boiled with some 


tali pusat\ then with leaves of the frong asam (" acid " 
egg-plant), and tie them round at intervals with a 
string of shredded tree-bark (tali t'rap}. The funnel- 
shaped bouquet thus formed is suspended above the 
child's cot (buayan) ; a spice-block (batu giling] is 
deposited inside it, and underneath it are placed the 
naked blade of a cutlass {parang pitting) , a cocoa-nut 
scraper (kukoran)^ and one of the basket-work stands 
used for the cooking-pots (lekar jantan\ which latter 
is slung round the neck of the cocoa-nut scraper. This 
last strange contrivance is, I believe, intended as a 
hint to the evil spirit or vampire which comes to suck 
the child's blood, and for whom the trap described 
above is set underneath the house-floor. 

Now get a censer and burn incense in it, adding to 
the flame, as it burns, rubbish from beneath a deserted 
house, the deserted nest of a merbah (dove), and 
the deserted nest of the " rain-bird " (sarang burong 
ujan-ujan). When all is ready, rock the cot very 
gently seven times, then take the spice-block out of 
the cot and deposit it together with the blade of the 
cutlass upon the ground, take the child in your arms 
and fumigate it by moving it thrice round in a circle 
over the smoke of the censer, counting up to seven 
as you do so, and swing the child gently towards your 
left. At the word "seven" call the child's soul by saying 
" Cluck, cluck ! soul of Muhammad here ! " a (if it is a 
boy), or " Cluck, cluck ! soul of Fatimah here ! " (if it is 
a girl) ; deposit the child in the cot and rock it very 
gently, so that it does not swing farther than the neck 
of the cocoa-nut scraper extends (sa-panjang kukoran 
sa/iaja). After this you may swing it as far as you 

1 A 'ur, stmangat Muhammad ini ! Kiir, sfmangat Fatimah ini ! 


like, but for at least seven days afterwards, whenever 
the child is taken out of the cot, the spice-block, or 
stone-child (anak batu] as it is called, must be deposited 
in the cot as a substitute for the child (pengganti 

Once in every four hours the child should be 
bathed with cold water, in order that it may be kept 
" cool." This custom, I was told, is diametrically 
opposite to that which obtains at Malacca, where the 
child is bathed as rarely as possible. The custom 
followed in Selangor is said to prevent the child from 
getting a sore mouth (guam). 

For the first two months or so, whenever the child 
is bathed, it is rubbed over with a paste obtained by 
mixing powdered rice with the powder obtained from 
a red stone called batu kawi. This stone, which is 
said by some Malays to take its name from the Island 
of Langkawi, is thought to possess astringent (klaf] 
qualities, and is used by Malay women to improve 
their skin. Before use the paste is fumigated with the 
smoke of burning eagle- wood, sandal-wood, and incense, 
after which the liquid, which is said to resemble 
red ink, is applied to the skin, and then washed off, 
no doubt, with lime-juice in the ordinary way. 

In the cold water which is used for bathing the 
child are deposited a big iron nail (as a "symbol of 
iron "), " candle-nuts " and cockle-shells (kulit Krang), 
to which some Malays add a kind of parasite called 
si bernas (i.e. Well- Filled Out, a word applied to 
children who are fat, instead of the word gemok, which 
is considered unlucky) and another parasite called 
sadingin or si dingin, the " Cold " one. 

After bathing, the Bidan should perform the 
ceremony called sembor sirih, which consists in the 


ejecting of betel-leaf (mixed with other ingredients) 
out of her mouth on to the pit of the child's stomach, 
the ingredients being pounded leaves of the bunglei, 
chVkor, and firangau, and chips of brazil-wood, ebony, 
and sugar- palm twigs (sVgar kabong) ; to these are 
sometimes added small portions of the "Rough" 
bamboo (buluh kasap\ of the bemban balu, and of 
the leaf-cases of the areca-palm (either upih Vlak 
batang or upih sarong], 

The child is generally named within the first week, 
but I have not yet heard of any special ceremony con- 
nected with the naming, though it is most probably 
considered as a religious act. The name is evidently 
considered of some importance, for if the child happens 
to get ill directly after the naming, it is sometimes 
re-adopted (temporarily) by a third party, who gives it 
a different name. When this happens a species of 
bracelets and anklets made of black cloth are put upon 
the child's wrists and ankles, the ceremony being called 
tumpang sayang. 

A few days later the child's head is shaved, and his 
nails cut for the first time. For the former process a 
red lather is manufactured from fine rice-flour mixed 
with gambier, lime, and betel-leaf. Some people have 
the child's head shaved clean, others leave the central 
lock (jambul}. In either case the remains of the red 
lather, together with the clippings of hair (and nails ?) 
are received in a rolled-up yam-leaf (daun kladi di- 
ponjuf] or cocoa-nut (?), and carried away and deposited 
at the foot of a shady tree, such as a banana (or a 
pomegranate ?). 

Sometimes (as had been done in the case of a Malay 
bride at whose " tonsure " I assisted *), the parents 

1 Vide pp. 353-355. '> 


make a vow at a child's birth that they will give a 
feast at the tonsure of its hair, just before its marriage, 
provided the child grows up in safety. 

Occasionally the ceremony of shaving the child's 
head takes place on the 44th day after birth, the cere- 
mony being called balik juru. A small sum, such 
as $2.00 or $3.00, is also sometimes presented to a 
pilgrim to carry clippings of the child's locks to Mecca 
and cast them into the well Zemzem, such payment 
being called 'kekah ('akekati) in the case of a boy, 
and kerban in the case of a girl. 1 

To return to the mother. She is bathed in hot 
water at 8 o'clock each morning for three days, and 
from the day of birth (after ablution) she has to under- 
go the strangest ceremony of all, " ascending the roast- 
ing-place " (naik saleian]. A kind of rough couch is 
prepared upon a small platform (saleian}, which is 
about six feet in length, and slopes downwards towards 
the foot, where it is about two feet above the floor. 
Beneath this platform a fireplace or hearth (dapor) 2 is 
constructed, and a " roaring fire " lighted, which is 

1 Of the Pahang customs Mr. Clif- cents being deemed sufficient for each 

ford writes : subsequent event." Clifford, Studies 

" Umat rushes off to the most famous in Brown Hum., pp. 47, 48. 
midwife in the place, and presents her 2 To each corner of this hearth is 
with a little brass dish filled with fastened a bunch of lemon-grass leaves, 
smooth green sirih leaves, and sixpence each of which is separately charmed by 
of our money (25 cents) in copper, for ejecting betel-leaf upon it (di-sembor) ; 
such is the retaining fee prescribed by at the same time a pillow is prepared 
Malay custom. The recipient of these for it by the insertion of a needle at 
treasures is thereafter held bound to each end. The fire (apt saleian) is 
attend the patient whenever she may be always lighted by the Bidan, and must 
called upon to do so, and when the never be allowed to go out for the whole 
confinement is over she can claim other of the 44 days. To light it the Bidan 
moneys in payment of her services. should take a brand from the house-fire 
These latter fees are not ruinously high, (api dapor), and when it is once pro- 
according to our standard, two dollars perly kindled, nothing must be cooked 
being charged for attending a woman at it, or the child will suffer. More- 
in her first confinement, a dollar or a over, whenever during this same period 
dollar and a half on the next occasion, there happens to be a hen sitting on 
and twenty-five, or at the most fifty its eggs in the house, the blades of 


intended to warm the patient to a degree consistent 
with Malay ideas of what is beneficial ! Custom, 
which is stronger than law, forces the patient to recline 
upon this couch two or three times in the course of 
the day, and to remain upon it each time for an hour 
or two. To such extremes is this practice carried, 
that " on one occasion a poor woman was brought 
to the point of death . . . and would have died if she 
had not been rescued by the kind interposition of the 
Civil Assistant - Surgeon ; the excessive excitement 
caused by the heat was so overpowering that aber- 
ration of mind ensued which continued for several 
months." 1 

As if this were not enough, one of the heated hearth- 
stones (batu tungkit) is frequently wrapped up in a 
piece of flannel or old rags, applied to the patient's 
stomach so as to "roast" her still more effectually. 
This "roasting" custom is said to continue for the 
whole of the forty-four days of uncleanness. During 
this period there are many birth -taboos (pantang 
beranak] applying to food, the following articles being 
usually forbidden: (i) things which have (from the 
Malay point of view) a lowering effect on the con- 
stitution (sagala yang sejuk-sejuK], e.g. fruits, with 
some exceptions, and vegetables ; (2) things which 
have a heating effect on the blood (sagala yang 
bisa-bisd), e.g. the fish called part (skate), the Prickly 
Fish (ikan duri\ and the sembilang (a kind of mud- 

weapons, such as daggers (k'risses) " Later, comes a day when Selema 
and spears, must not be reset nearly loses her life by reason of the 
in their handles (m/m&a/au) either barbarities which Malay science con- 
ever the hearth-fire or the fire of the siders necessary if a woman is to win 
saleian. through her confinement without mis- 

1 T. D. Vaughan in vol. xi. of hap." Clifford, Stud, in Br. Hum., 

J.I.A. p. 51. 

Cp. the following passage : 


fish with poisonous spines on both sides and back), 
and all fresh-water fish ; (3) all things which have an 
irritating effect on the skin (sagala yang gatal-gatal), 
e.g. the fish called tenggiri, and terubok, shell-fish, 
and the egg-plant or Brinjal, while the fish called kurau, 
g lama, senahong, parang-parang may be eaten, so 
long as they are well salted ; (4) things which are 
supposed to cause faintness (sagala yang bentan- 
bentan), or swooning (pengsan), such, for instance, as 
uncooked cocoa-nut pulp, gourds and cucumbers ; (5) 
sugar (with the exception of cocoa-nut sugar), cocoa- 
nuts, and chillies. 1 

The following description of birth - taboos in 
Pahang, taken from Mr. H. Clifford's Studies in 
Brown Humanity, will give a good general idea of 
this part of the subject : 

" When Umat has placed the sirih leaves he has 
done all he can for Selema, and he resigns himself 
to endure the anxiety of the next few months with 
the patience of which he has so much command. 
The pantang ber-dnak, or birth-taboos, hem a husband 
in almost as rigidly as they do his wife, and Umat, 
who is as superstitious as are all the Malays of the 
lower classes, is filled with fear lest he should unwit- 
tingly transgress any law, the breach of which might 
cost Selema her life. He no longer shaves his head 
periodically, as he loves to do, for a naked scalp is 
very cool and comfortable ; he does not even cut his 

1 The following methods are resorted paratus, is kept; (b) the "rattan" 

to for the curing of faintness : (a) the (rotan s/gn) " cure," which is said to 

patient is made to smell (di-isapkan], consist in charring the end of a piece of 

first with one and then with the other rattan (rotan s/ga), taking the burnt 

nostril, the bottom of the copper (or end in the mouth, and blowing the 

brass) receptacle (pekaporan] in which smoke into the patient's ear (di-em- 

the lime, which is one of the invariable buskan). 
concomitants of the betel-chewing ap- 


hair, and a thick black shock stands five inches high 
upon his head, and tumbles raggedly about his neck 
and ears. Se^Sma is his first wife, and never before 
has she borne children, wherefore no hair of her 
husband's must be trimmed until her days are ac- 
complished. Umat will not kill the fowls for the 
cook now, nor even drive a stray dog from the com- 
pound with violence, lest he should chance to maim 
it, for he must shed no blood, and must do no hurt 
to any living thing during all this time. One day 
he is sent on an errand up-river and is absent until 
the third day. On inquiry it appears that he passed 
the night in a friend's house, and on the morrow 
found that the wife of his host was shortly expecting 
to become a mother. Therefore he had to remain 
at least two nights in the village. Why? Because 
if he failed to do so, Selema would die. Why would 
she die ? God alone knows, but such is the teaching 
of the men of old, the wise ones of ancient days. 
But Umat's chief privation is that he is forbidden 
to sit in the doorway of his house. To understand 
what this means to a Malay, you must realise that 
the seat in the doorway, at the head of the stair- 
ladder that reaches to the ground, is to him much 
what the fireside is to the English peasant. It is 
here that he sits and looks out patiently at life, as 
the European gazes into the heart of the fire. It is 
here that his neighbours come to gossip with him, 
and it is in the doorway of his own or his friend's house 
that the echo of the world is borne to his ears. But, 
while Selema is ill, Umat may not block the doorway, 
or dreadful consequences will ensue, and though he 
appreciates this and makes the sacrifice readily for his 
wife's sake, it takes much of the comfort out of his life. 


" Selema, meanwhile, has to be equally circum- 
spect. She bridles her woman's tongue resolutely, 
and no word in disparagement of man or beast passes 
her lips during all these months, for she has no 
desire to see the qualities she dislikes reproduced in 
the child. She is often tired to death and faint and 
ill before her hour draws nigh, but none the less she 
will not lie upon her mat during the daytime lest 
her heavy eyes should close in sleep, since her child 
would surely fall a prey to evil spirits were she to 
do so. Therefore she fights on to the dusk, and 
Umat does all he can to comfort her and to lighten 
her sufferings by constant tenderness and care." * 

The medicine (sambaran bara), used by the 
mother after her confinement, consists of the ashes of 
a burnt cocoa-nut shell pounded and mixed with a 
pinch of black pepper (lada hitam sa-jimput\ a root 
of garlic (bawang puteh sa-labuti), and enough vinegar 
to make the mixture liquid. This potion is drunk for 
three consecutive mornings. A bandage is swathed 
about her waist, and she is treated with a cosmetic 
(bedafc) manufactured from temu kuning, which is 
pounded small (and mixed as before with garlic, 
black pepper, and vinegar), and applied every morn- 
ing and evening for the first three days. During the 
next three days a new cosmetic (bedak kunyit t'rus) 
is applied, the ingredients being kunyit frus pounded 
and mixed in the same way as the cosmetic just 

At the same time the patient is given a potion 
made from the ash of burnt durian skins (abu 
kulit durian), mixed as before with vinegar ; the fruit- 

1 Clifford, Stud, in Brown Hum,, pp. 48-50. 


stalk, or "spire," of a cocoa-nut palm (manggar niyor) 
being substituted if the durian skin is not obtainable. 

A poultice (iibat pupok} is also applied to the 
patient's forehead, after the early bathing, during the 
"forty-four days" of her retirement; it consists of 
leaves of the tahi babi, jintan hitam, and garlic, 
pounded and mixed as usual with vinegar. 

After three days an extraordinary mixture, called 
in Selangor the " Hundred Herbs " (rempah 'ratus\ 
but in Malacca merely " Pot-herbs " (rempah firioK), 
is concocted from all kinds of herbs, roots, and spices. 
The ingredients are put into a large vessel of water 
and left to soak, a portion of the liquor being strained 
off and given to the patient as a potion every morning 
for about ten days. Similar ingredients boiled in a 
large pot, which is kept hot by being hermetically 
sealed (di-getang), and by having live embers placed 
underneath it from time to time, furnish the regular 
beverage of the patient up to the time of her puri- 
fication. After the first fortnight, however, the lees 
are extracted from the vessel and used to compose 
a poultice which is applied to the patient's waist, a 
set of fresh ingredients replacing the old ones. 1 It 
is sold for fifty cents a jar. 

On the forty -fourth day the raised platform or 
roasting-place (saleian) is taken down and the cere- 
mony called Floor-washing (basoh lantei) takes place, 
the whole house being thoroughly washed and cleaned. 

1 The following is the list of actual chingkeh pala, buah ptlaga, katumbar, 

ingredients so far as I could ascertain jftnuju Jawa, jfmuju Jk/rsant, chabti 

them : bark of the jambus, stntul, tali, chabei pintal, changkoh, sudtt 

Wruas,rambutan,kachangkayu, 'Wan, ayer, mur daging, mur tulang, pekak, 

dfdap, pHtaling, rambei, laiaang, kayu jintan puteh, jintan hitam, manjakani, 

man is, strapat, and m/mp'las hari ; manjarawai or mlfnjtlawai (?), akar 

and the following herbs, roots, or manis, biji sawi, jadam, puchok ganti, 

spices, such as kunyit frits, lada mesur, alim, mustakim, chuchor a/a/, 

hitam, baivang puteh, ba-wang merah, kfmuktts, and kadtfkai. 


The floor having been smeared with rice -cosmetic 
(bedak) (such as the Malays use for the bathing 
ceremony), it is well scratched by the claws of a 
fowl, which is caught (and washed) for the purpose, 
and then held over the floor and forced to do the 
scratching required of it. The cosmetic is then 
removed (di-langir} by means of lime-juice (again as 
in the bathing ceremony) and the hearth - fire is 
changed. The Bidan now receives her pay, usually 
getting in cash for the eldest child $4.40 (in some 
places $5.40), for the second, $3.40, the third, $2.40, 
and for the fourth, and all subsequent children, $1.40; 
unless she is hastily summoned (bidan tareK) and no 
engagement (menempali} has been made, in which 
case she may demand half a bhara ($11). Besides 
this somewhat meagre remuneration, however, she 
receives from the well-to-do (at the floor- washing 
ceremony) such presents as cast - off clothes (kain 
bekas tuboti), a bowl of saffron rice, a bowl of the 
rice-cosmetic and limes (bedak limau], and a platter 
of betel - leaf, with accessories (cherana sirilt). 
Though the remuneration may appear small, it was, 
nevertheless, sure ; as in former days an unwritten 
law allowed her to take the child and "cry it for 
sale" (di-jaja) round the country, should her fee 
remain unpaid. 

Before concluding the present subject it will be 
necessary to describe certain specific injunctions and 
taboos which form an important part of the vast 
body of Malay customs which centre specially round 
the birth of children. 

Before the child is born the father has to be more 
than usually circumspect with regard to what he does, 
as any untoward act on his part would assuredly have 


a prejudicial effect on the child, and cause a birth- 
mark or even actual deformity, any such affection 
being called kVnan. In a case which came to my 
notice the son was born with only a thumb, forefinger, 
and little finger on the left hand, and a great toe on 
the left foot, the rest of the fingers and toes on the 
left side being wanting. This, I was told, was due to 
the fact that the father violated this taboo by going to 
the fishing-stakes one day and killing a crab by chop- 
ping at it with a cutlass. 

In former days during this period it was "taboo" 
(pantang) for the father to cut the throat of a buffalo 
or even of a fowl ; or, in fact, to take the life of any 
animal whatever a trace no doubt of Indian influ- 
ences. A Malay told me once that his son, soon 
after birth, was afflicted with a great obstruction of 
breathing, but that when the medicine-man (Pawang) 
declared (after "diagnosing" the case) that the child 
was suffering from a " fish-affection " (kenan ikan), he 
remembered that he had knocked on the head an 
extraordinary number of fish which he had caught 
on the very day that his son was born. He there- 
fore, by the advice of the medicine -man, gave the 
child a potion made from pounded fish bones, and an 
immediate and permanent recovery was the result. 

Such affections as those described are classified 
by the Malays according to the kind of influence 
which is supposed to have produced them. Thus 
the unoffending victim may be either fish - struck 
(kenan ikari), as described above, ape-struck (kenan 
b'rok\ dog-struck (kenan anjing), crab-struck (kZnan 
ketam), and so forth, it being maintained that in 
every case the child either displays some physical 
deformity, causing a resemblance to the animal by 


which it was affected, or else (and more commonly) 
unconsciously imitates its actions or its "voice." 

Another interesting custom was that the father 
was stringently forbidden to cut his hair until after 
the birth of the child. 

The following passage bearing on the subject is 
taken from Sir W. E. Maxwell's article on the " Folk- 
lore of the Malays " : l 

"In selecting timber for the uprights of a Malay 
house care must be taken to reject any log which 
is indented by the pressure of any parasitic creeper 
which may have wound round it when it was a living 
tree. A log so marked, if used in building a house, 
will exercise an unfavourable influence in childbirth, 
protracting delivery and endangering the lives of 
mother and child. Many precautions must be taken 
to guard against evil influence of a similar kind, when 
one of the inmates of a house is expecting to become 
a mother. No one may ' divide the house ' (belah 
mmati), that is, go in at the front door and out at the 
back, or vice versa, nor may any guest or stranger be 
entertained in the house for one night only ; he must 
be detained for a second night to complete an even 
period. If an eclipse occur, the woman on whose 
account these observances are necessary must be taken 
into the penangga (kitchen), and placed beneath the 
shelf or platform (para) on which the domestic utensils 
are kept. A spoon is put into her hand. If these 
precautions are not taken, the child when born will 
be deformed." 

Sir W, E. Maxwell in the above is speaking of 
Perak Malays. The passage just quoted applies to a 

1 J.R.A.S., S.B., No. 7, p. 19. 


great extent to Selangor, but with a few discrepancies. 
Thus a house-post indented by a creeper is generally 
avoided in Selangor for a different reason, viz. that it 
is supposed to bring snakes into the house. 

" Dividing the house," however, is generally con- 
sidered an important birth - taboo in Selangor, the 
threatened penalty for its non - observance being 
averted by compelling the guilty party to submit to the 
unpleasant ceremony called sembor ayer, a member 
of the family being required to eject (sembor) a mouth- 
ful of water upon the small of the culprit's back. 

In Selangor, again, a guest must stay three nights 
(not two] in the house, his departure on the first or 
second night being called "Insulting the Night" 
(menjolok malam). To avert the evil consequences of 
such an act, fumigation (rabun-rabun) is resorted to, 
the " recipe " for it running as follows : " Take assa- 
fcetida, sulphur, kunyit frus (an evil -smelling root), 
onion skins, dried areca-nut husk, lemon-grass leaves, 
and an old mat or cloth, burn them, and leave the 
ashes for about an hour at sunset on the floor of the 
passage in front of the door." That a sensible and 
self-respecting " demon " should avoid a house where 
such an unconscionable odour is raised is not in the 
least surprising ! 

In the event of an eclipse the customs of the two 
sister States appear to be nearly identical ; the only 
difference being that in Selangor the woman is placed 
in the doorway (in the moonlight as far as possible), 
and is furnished with the basket-work stand of a cook- 
ing pot, as well as a wooden rice-spoon, the former as a 
trap to catch any unwary demon who may be so foolish 
as to put his head "into the noose," and the latter 
as a weapon of- offence, it being supposed that "the 


rattan binding of the spoon (which must, of course, be 
of the orthodox Malay pattern) will unwind itself and 
entangle the assailant " in the case of any real danger. 
Finally, the Bidan must be present to " massage " the 
woman, and repeat the necessary charms. 

From the following passage it would appear that 
the corresponding Pahang custom does not materially 
differ from that of Perak and Selangor : 

" But during the period that the Moon's fate hung 
in the balance, Selema has suffered many things. She 
has been seated motionless in the fireplace under the 
tray-like shelf, which hangs from the low rafters, 
trembling with terror of she knows not what. The 
little basket-work stand, on which the hot rice-pot is 
wont to rest, is worn on her head as a cap, and in her 
girdle the long wooden rice-spoon is stuck dagger-wise. 
Neither she nor Umat know why these things are 
done, but they never dream of questioning their neces- 
sity. It is the custom. The men of olden days have 
decreed that women with child should do these things 
when the Moon is in trouble, and the consequences of 
neglect are too terrible to be risked ; so Selema and 
Umat act according to their simple faith." 1 


Of the purely Malay ceremonies performed at 
Adolescence, the most important are the "filing of the 
teeth " (berasah gigi}? and the cutting of the first locks 
of hair, in cases where this latter operation has been 
postponed till the child's marriage by a vow of its 

1 Clifford, Stud, in Brown Hum., p. 51. 
2 Lit. " sharpening ol the teeth." 


The following is a description of the rite of tonsure 
(b$rckukor\ at which I was present in person : 

"Some time ago (in 1897) I received, through one 
of my local Malay headmen, an invitation to attend a 
tonsure ceremony. 

"When I arrived (about two P.M.), in company of 
the headman referred to, the usual dancing and Koran- 
chanting was proceeding in the outer chamber or 
verandah, which was decked out for the occasion with 
the usual brilliantly coloured ceiling-cloth and striped 
wall-tapestry. After a short interval we were invited 
to enter an inner room, where a number of Malays of 
both sexes were awaiting the performance of the rite. 
The first thing, however, that caught the eye was a 
gracefully-draped figure standing with shrouded head, 
and with its back to the company, upon the lowest 
step of the dais (grei}> which had been erected with 
a view to the prospective wedding ceremony. This 
was the bride. A dark -coloured veil, thrown over 
her head and shoulders, allowed seven luxuriant 
tresses of her wonderful raven -black hair to escape 
and roll down below her waist, a ring of precious metal 
being attached to the end of each tress. Close to 
the bride, and ready to support her, should she require 
it, in her motherly arms, stood the (on such occasions) 
familiar figure of the Duenna (Mak Inang\ whose 
duty, however, in the present instance was confined 
to taking the left hand of the bride between her own, 
and supporting it in a horizontal position whilst each 
of the seven Representatives (orang waris) l in turn 
was sprinkling it with the ' Neutralising Rice- 
paste ' (tepong tawar) by means of the usual bunch 

1 Lit. " heirs " (warith), but often, as here, used in the sense of repre- 
sentative members of the family. 

2 A 


or brush of leaves. A little in front of this pair 
stood a youth supporting in his hands an unhusked 
cocoa-nut shell. The crown of this cocoa-nut had 
been removed, and the edges at the top cut in such 
a way as to form a chevroned or ' dog-tooth ' border. 
Upon the indentations of this rim was deposited a 
necklace, and a large pair of scissors about the size 
of a tailor's shears were stuck point downwards in 
the rim. The cocoa-nut itself was perhaps half-filled 
with its 'milk.' Close to this youth stood another, 
supporting one of the usual circular brass trays 
(with high sides) containing all the ordinary acces- 
sories of the tepong tawar ceremony, i.e. a bowl of 
rice-paste, a brush of leaves, parched rice, washed 
saffron-stained rice, and benzoin or incense. 

" I was now requested to open the proceedings, 
but at my express desire the Penghulu (Malay head- 
man) did so for me, first scattering several handfuls 
(of the different sorts of rice) over the bride, and 
then sprinkling the rice-paste upon the palm of her 
left hand, which was held out to receive it as described 
above. \ The sprinkling over, he took the scissors and 
with great deliberation severed the end of the first 
lock, which was made to fall with a little splash, and 
with the ring attached to it, into the cocoa-nut with 
the ' dog-tooth ' border. 

" Five other waris (Representatives) and myself 
followed suit, the seven tresses with the rings attached 
to them being all received in the cocoa-nut as described. 

" A child of the age of about two or three years 
underwent the tonsure at the same time, each of the 
Representatives, after severing the bride's lock, snip- 
ping off a portion of the child's hair. The child was 
in arms and was not veiled, but wore a shoulder-cloth 


(bidak) thrown over his shoulder. At the conclusion 
of the ceremony we left the room, and the Koran- 
chanting was resumed and continued until the arrival 
of the bridegroom in procession (at about five P.M.), 
when the bride and bridegroom went through the 
ceremony of being ' seated side by side ' (ber sanding), 
and the business of the day was concluded. 

"The cocoa-nut containing the severed tresses and 
rings is carried to the foot of a barren fruit-tree (e.g. 
a pomegranate-tree), when the rings are extracted and 
the water (with the severed locks) poured out at the 
tree's foot, the belief being that this proceeding will 
make the tree as luxuriant as the hair of the person 
shorn, a very clear example of 'sympathetic magic.' 
If the parents are poor, the cocoa-nut is generally 
turned upside down and left there ; but if they are 
well-to-do, the locks are usually sent to Mecca in 
charge of a pilgrim, who casts them on his arrival 
into the well Zemzem." 

I will now describe the ceremony of filing or 
"sharpening" the teeth, from notes taken by myself 
during the actual ceremony (2Oth March, 1897). 

The youth whose teeth I saw filed must have 
been quite fifteen or sixteen years of age, and had 
not long before undergone the rite of circumcision. 
When I arrived I found the house newly swept and 
clean, and all the accessories of the ceremony already 
prepared. These latter consisted of a round tray 
(dulang) containing the usual bowl of rice - paste 
(tepong tawar), with the brush of leaves, 1 three cups 
(containing different sorts of rice), an egg, 2 three rings 

1 The leaf-brush in this case con- sZlaguri, and was bound up with ribu- 
sisted of leaves of the sapfnoh, puhtt- ribu (a kind of creeper). 
///, sapanggil, sambau dara, and 2 Into this egg, it is supposed, all 


of precious metals (gold, silver, and amalgam), a 
couple of limes, and two small files (to which a small 
tooth-saw and two small whetstones should be added). 1 
The ceremony now commences : the tooth -filer 
(Pawang gigi) first scatters the three sorts of rice and 
sprinkles the tepong tawar upon his instruments, 
etc., repeating the proper charm 2 at the same time ; 
the patient meanwhile, and throughout the operation, 
reclining upon his back on the floor with his head 
resting on a pillow. Next the Pawang, sitting 
beside the patient, "touches" the patient's teeth, first 
with each of the three rings of precious metal and 
then with the egg, throwing each of these objects 
away as he does so, and repeating each time a charm 
(Hu, kata Allah, d. s. &.), which is given in the 
Appendix. Next he props open (di - sengkang) the 
patient's mouth by means of a dried areca-nut, 
and repeats another charm (Hei, Bismi) in order to 
destroy the " venom " of the steel, laying the file 
upon the teeth, 3 and drawing it thrice across 
them at the end of the charm. He then cuts 
off (di-k'rat) the crowns of the teeth (with one 

evil influences proceeding from the (badi) issues from the teeth. This 

teeth enter. Hence it is regarded after dulang-dulang is valued at a quarter 

the ceremony as sial (unlucky), and of a dollar, and is taken as part pay- 

cannot be eaten indeed it is considered ment of the tooth-filer's services, or it 

"bad" (t?mtf lang). may be retained by the householder 

1 Besides the tray containing the when the full fee of fifty cents is paid, 

articles described, there stood at one This dulang - dulang is thought, 

side of the room what is called a moreover, to dispel evil influences 

dulang-dulang. This consists of a (membuang sial), the hank of yarn 

tray full of unhusked rice surmounted by being used by the Pawang to wipe his 

a tray full of husked rice and a roughly- eyes should any harm to them accrue 

husked cocoa-nut (niyor gubalan) which from evil influences residing in the 

rests upon the latter. The pc 
of the cocoa-nut referred to is 
by a hank of "Java" threac 
Jaiva), which is said to avert 
the tooth - filer's eyes whei 

inted top teeth. Such evil influences (badi), 

Sr circled however, can only accrue when people 

nang are having their teeth filed for the first 

ry to time (orang bttngaran). 

as 2 Vide App. cli. 

sometimes happens, the evil influence 3 Vide App. cliii. 


of the files), smooths their edges (di-papar) with 
one of the whetstones, and polishes them (mtlechek). 
During the whole of this part of the performance, 
which is a trying ordeal to witness, although it is 
borne with the utmost fortitude on the part of the 
sufferer, the latter holds a small mirror in front of his 
mouth in order to be assured that the operation is 
progressing to his satisfaction. When the actual 
filing is over, the areca-nut is extracted, and a piece 
of cocoa-nut husk or small block of pulai wood 
inserted in its stead, in order to facilitate the proper 
polishing of the now mutilated teeth. This latter 
part of the operation is accomplished by means of 
the file, a small piece of folded white cloth protecting 
the lips from injury. 

Considerable interest attaches to the filing of the 
first tooth, on account of the omens which are taken 
from the position in which the crown happens to lie 
when it falls. If, when the tooth is filed through, the 
crown adheres to the file, it is taken as a sign that 
the patient will die at home ; if it flies off and lies 
with its edge turned upwards, this means, on the con- 
trary, that he will die abroad. 

At the conclusion of the operation a species of 
poultice (ubat tasafc), consisting mainly of cooked 
ginger (halia bara di-pahis-ki\ which is intended to 
"deaden (the feeling of) the gums" (matikan daging 
g^ls^) is duly charmed * and applied to the gums of 
the jaw which happens to be under treatment. The 
Pawang now lays one hand (the left) on the top of 
the patient's head and the other upon the teeth of 
the upper jaw, and presses them together with a show 
of considerable force, making believe, as it were, that 

1 Vide App. civ. 


he is pressing the patient's upper teeth firmly into their 
sockets. Finally, a portion of betel -leaf is charmed 
(with the charm Hong sarangin, etc.) and given to 
the patient to chew, after which, it is asserted, all 
pain immediately ceases. The Pawang then washes 
his hands, resharpens his tools, and those present sit 
down to a meal of saffron-stained pulut rice. This 
concludes the ceremony for the day, the lower jaw 
being similarly treated upon a subsequent occasion. 

In the course of three such operations (the Pawang 
informed me) the teeth can be filed down even with 
the gums, in which case they are, I believe, in some 
instances somewhat roughly plated or cased with gold. 
Sometimes, however, they are merely filed into points, 
so that they resemble the teeth of a shark. 1 Very 
frequently, too, they blacken them with a mixture of 
the empyreumatic oil of the cocoa-nut shell (baja or 
grang) and kamunting (Kl. karamunting] wood, 2 
which is also used for blackening the eyebrows. 
These customs, however, are already dying out in 
the more civilised Malay States. 

1 " Both sexes have the extraordinary applied the filing does not, by destroy - 

custom of filing and otherwise disfigur- ing what we term the enamel, diminish 

ing their teeth, which are naturally the whiteness of the teeth. . . . The 

very white and beautiful, from the great men sometimes set theirs in gold 

simplicity of their food. For files by casing with a plate of that metal the 

they make use of small whetstones, under row ; and this ornament, con- 

and the patients lie on their backs trasted with the black dye, has, by 

during the operation. Many, particu- lamp or candle light, a very splendid 

larly the women of the Lampong effect. It is sometimes indented to the 

country, have their teeth rubbed down shape of the teeth, but more usually 

quite even with the gums ; others have quite plain. They do not remove it 

them formed in points, and some file either to eat or sleep." Marsden, //&/. 

off no more than the outer coat and of Sumatra (ed. 1811), pp. 52, 53. 
extremities in order that they may the 2 The oil used for this purpose is 

better receive and retain the jetty black- also obtained by burning the leaves of 

ness with which they almost universally the lime-tree (Clifford and Swett., Mai. 

adorn them. The black used on these Diet., s.v. Baja) or (in Selangor) the 

occasions is the empyreumatic oil of the wood of certain trees, such as the 

cocoa - nut shell. When this is not jambu biawas and meSpoyan. 

vi EAR- BORING 359 

Whenever I made inquiries as to the reason of 
this strange custom, I was invariably told that it not 
only beautified but preserved the teeth from the action 
of decay, which the Malays believe to be set up by the 
presence of a minute maggot or worm (ulat), their most 
usual way of expressing the fact that they are suffering 
from toothache being to say that the tooth in question 
is being "eaten by a maggot" (di-makan ulaf). 

The " Batak " Malays (a Mid-Sumatran tribe, many 
of whom have settled in Kuala Langat) are said to 
chip the teeth of their children into the desired shape 
by the use of a small chisel, the operation causing such 
exquisite agony that the sufferer will not unfrequently 
leap to his feet with a shriek. 

Even when the file is used, the work of an unskilful 
performer (who does not know how to destroy the 
"venom" of his instruments) will cause the sufferer's 
face to be completely swollen up (bakup] for a long 
period subsequent to the operation. Yet young people 
of both sexes cheerfully submit to the risk of this 
discomfort, and the only remark made by the youth 
whom I saw undergoing it was that it " made his mouth 
feel uncomfortable " (jelejek rasa mulut-nya). 

The ear-boring ceremony (bertindek) appears to 
have already lost much of its ceremonial character in 
Selangor, where I was told that it is now usually per- 
formed when the child is quite small, i.e. at the earliest, 
when the child is some five or seven months old, and when 
it is about a year old at the latest, whereas in Sumatra 
(according to Marsden) it is not performed until the 
child is eight or nine. 1 Still, however, a special kind 

1 " At the age of about eight or nine monies that must necessarily precede 
they bore the ears and file the teeth of their marriage. The former they call 
the female children ; which are cere- betendt, and the latter bedabong ; and 


of round ear-ring, which is of filagree-work, and is 
called subang, is as much the emblem of virginity in 
the western States as it ever was. The "discarding" 
of these ear-rings (tanggal subang], which should take 
place about seven days after the conclusion of the 
marriage rites, is ceremonial in character, and it is even 
the custom when a widow (janda) is married for the 
second time, to provide her with a pair of subang 
(which should, however, it is said, be tied on to her 
ears instead of being inserted in the ear-holes, as in the 
case of a girl who has never been married). 

The rite of circumcision is of course common to 
Muhammadans all over the world. Some analogous 
practices, however, have also been noticed among the 
non-Muhammadan Malayan races of the Eastern 
Archipelago, and it is at least doubtful whether cir- 
cumcision as now practised by Malays is a purely 
Muhummadan rite. Among Malays it is performed 
by a functionary called the "Mudim," 1 with a slip 
of bamboo, at any age (in the case of boys) 
from about six or seven up to about sixteen years, 
the wound being often dressed (at least in town 
districts) with fine clay mixed with soot and the 
yolk of eggs, but when possible, the clay is mixed 
with cocoa-nut fibre (rabok niyor), selumur paku uban, 
and the young shoots of the Klat plantain {puchok 
pisang Klat\ the compound being called in either case 

these operations are regarded in the a rivet or nut screwed to the inner 

family as the occasion of a festival. They part." Marsden, Hist, of Sumatra 

do not here, as in some of the adjacent (ed. 181 1), p. 53. 

islands (of Nias in particular), increase x The formula (shahadat) used by 

the aperture of the ear to a monstrous the Mudim (tukang memotong) runs as 

size, so as in many instances to be large follows : 

enough to admit the hand, the lower " Ashahadun la-ilaha-illa-'llak wa 

parts being stretched till they touch ashahadun Muhammad al-Rasul Allah 

the shoulders. Their ear-rings are allahumma aja'lni mina U-taivabina 

mostly of gold filagree, and fastened, wa aja'lni mina ' l-matatakirrina." 

not with a clasp, but in the manner of 


ubat tasak. The ceremony is associated with the 
common purificatory rite called tepong tawar, and 
with ayer tolak bala (lit. evil-dispelling water). Lights 
are kept burning in the house for several days ("until 
the wound has healed "), and the performance of the 
ceremony is always made the occasion for a banquet, 
together with music and dancing of the kind in which 
Malays take so much delight. The cause of these 
rejoicings is dressed for the occasion "like a bride- 
groom" (pengantin), and is said to be sometimes carried 
in procession. 


Ceremonies and charms for protecting or render- 
ing the person more attractive or formidable, form 
one of the largest, but not perhaps the most inter- 
esting or important division of the medicine-man's 

The following remarkable specimen of the charms 
belonging to the first of these classes was given me 
by 'Che 'Abas of Klanang in Selangor, a Kelantan 
Malay : 

" If the corpse in the grave should speak, 
And address people on earth, 
May I be destroyed by any beast that has life, 
But if the corpse in the grave do not speak, 
And address people on earth, 

May I not be destroyed by any beast that has life, or by any 
foe or peril, or by any son of the human race. 

And if the chicken in the egg should crow, 
And call to chickens on earth, 
May I be destroyed by any beast that has life, 
But if the chicken in the egg do not crow," 

(etc. etc., as before.) 

As a general rule, however, this particular class of 


charms shows particularly strong traces of Arabic 
influence, most often, perhaps, taking the form of an 
injunction (addressed to Jins or Angels) to watch over 
the person of the petitioner. 

To rightly understand charms of the second class, 
which includes Bathing and Betel-charming charms, 1 we 
must have some idea of the Malay standard of beauty. 
This, I need hardly say, differs widely from that enter- 
tained by Europeans. In the case of manly beauty 
we should, perhaps, be able to acquiesce to some 
extent in the admiration which Malays express for 
"Brightness of Countenance" (ckakia), which forms 
one of the chief objects of petition in almost every 
one of this class of charms ; 2 but none of our modern 
Ganymedes would be likely to petition for a " voice 
like the voice of the Prophet David " ; 3 or a " coun- 
tenance like the countenance of the Prophet Joseph " ; 
still less would he be likely to petition for a tongue 
"curled like a breaking wave," or "a magic serpent," 
or for teeth "like a herd of (black) elephants," or 
for lips "like a procession of ants." 4 

Malay descriptions of female beauty are no less 
curious. The " brow " (of the Malay Helen, for whose 
sake a thousand desperate battles are fought in Malay 
romances) "is like the one-day-old moon," 5 her eye- 
brows resemble "pictured clouds," 6 and are "arched 
like the fighting-cock's (artificial) spur," 7 her cheek 
resembles " the sliced-off-cheek of a mango," 8 her nose 
"an opening jasmine bud," 9 her hair the " wavy 
blossom-shoots of the areca-palm," 10 slender 11 is her 

1 Some of these charms are also 7 B?ntok taji. 
Love-charms, vide App. clxv. 8 Pauh di-layang. 

2 Vide App. clxiii. 3 Ibid. * Ibid. 9 Kuntum mflor belum k?mbang. 
6 Sa-hari bulan. 10 Ikal mayang. 

6 Arvan di-tulis. u Jinjang. 


neck, "with a triple row of dimples," 1 her bosom 
ripening, 2 her waist "lissom as the stalk of a flower," 1 
her head "of a perfect oval" (lit. bird's-egg-shaped), 
her fingers like the leafy "spears of lemon-grass," 4 or 
the "quills of the porcupine," 5 her eyes "like the 
splendour of the planet Venus," and her lips "like 
the fissure of a pomegranate." 7 

The following is a specimen of an invocation for 
beautifying the person which is supposed to be used 
by children : 

" The light of four Suns, five Moons, 
And the seven Stars be visible in my eye. 
The brightness of a shooting star be upon my chin, 
And that of the full moon be upon my brows. 
May my lips be like unto a string of ants, 
My teeth like to a herd of elephants, 
My tongue like a breaking wave, 
My voice like the voice of the Prophet David, 
My countenance like the countenance of the Prophet Joseph, 
My brightness like the brightness of the Prophet Muhammad, 
By virtue of my using this charm that was coeval with my 

And by grace of ' There is no god but God,' " etc. 

When personal attractions begin to wane with the 
lapse of years, invocations are resorted to for the 
purpose of restoring the petitioner's lost youth. In 
one of the invocations referred to (which is said to 
have been used by the Princess of Mount Ophir, 
Tuan Putri Gunong Ledang, to secure perpetual 
youth), the petitioner boasts that he (or she) was " born 
under the Inverted Banyan Tree," and claims the 
granting of the boon applied for "by virtue of the use 
of the " Black Lenggundi Bush," which when it has 

1 Gttak (Mlak) tiga. Duri landak. 

8 Bidang. c Qhahia bintang Zuhrah. 

3 Ramping saptrti tangkei bunga. 7 Dalima mfrkah. 

* Tombak strai. 


died, returns to life again," 1 the idea being, no doubt, 
that a judicious use of black magic will enable the 
petitioner to "live backwards." 

The third class of invocations, for rendering the 
person formidable, belong rather to the chapter on 
war, under which heading they will be included. 


Betrothal is called tunangan or pinangan. When 
the parents of a marriageable youth perceive a suitable 
"match" for their son, they send a messenger to her 
parents to ask if she has yet been " bespoken " (kalau 
ada orang sebuf}. If the reply is satisfactory, the 
messenger is again despatched to intimate the desire 
of the youth's parents to "bespeak" the hand of the 
favoured individual for his son, and to arrange a day 
for a meeting. These preliminaries are accompanied 
by the usual polite self-depreciation on both sides. 
Thus, the girl's father begins by saying, " You wish to 
bespeak the hand of my daughter, who knows neither 
how to cook nor how to sew " (yang tdtaku masak, 
tdtahu menjait\ But the custom is not carried to such 
extremes as it is in China. 2 

1 Vide App. clxxv. I know not whether good luck or calamity 

will follow it, 

2 The youth's representatives had But my heart turns towards you." 
further the right to interview the girl, Here one of the girl's representatives 
and personally assure themselves that says, ' ' Look well at this buffalo-calf of 
she was " without blemish and without mine that has been allowed to forage 
spot." This interview passed by the for itself. Maybe its coat is torn, its 
name of the " Inspection of the Buffalo- limbs broken, or its sight lost." The 
calf," and was conducted somewhat as youth's representative, if all is satis- 
follows : When the youth's representa- factory, then replies 

tives (the Wooing Party) go to inspect The sun being so high, 

the girl, one of them says The buffalo-calf will die if tethered ; 

This long while have I been prosecuting 

" See how fruitful are the satela yams, my search, 

Where the hills of Bantan rise by the But not till to-day did I meet with what I 

sea ; wanted." 



The girl's parents next call four or five witnesses 
(saksi) of either sex to "witness" the betrothal, and 
after preparing a meal (nasi dan kuek] for their 
expected guests, await the arrival of the youth's 
" Representatives," the youth himself remaining at 
home. One of the party carries a betel-leaf tray 
furnished with the usual betel-chewing appliances, 
together with half a bhara of dollars ($11) according 
to the stricter custom ; although (failing the dollars), 
a ring or bracelet, or other jewellery of that value, may 
be substituted. 

Bearing these presents with them, the youth's re- 
presentatives proceed to the house of the girl's parents, 
where they are invited to enter and partake of the 
betel-leaf provided for them. A meal is then served, 
Malay cakes (kueh-kueK) brought forward, and the 
company again partake of betel. 

The two parties now sit down in a "family circle," 
and one of the youth's representatives pushes forward 
(di-sorongkan) the betel which they had brought with 
them, and offers it to the people of the house, saying, 
" This is a pledge of your daughter's betrothal." The 
girl's father replies, "Be it so, I accept it," or words to 
that effect, and inquires how long the engagement is 
to last, the answer being " six months " or " a year " as 
the case may be. Both parties then appeal to the 
witnesses to "hear what is said," and the youth's rela- 
tives return to their homes. 

The marriage portion being fixed (in Selangor) by 
an almost universal custom at two bharas of dollars 
($44), the amount is not usually mentioned at the be- 
trothal, it being understood that the usual amount is 
intended. But if the girl's parents should afterwards 
prove reluctant to proceed with the match, they 


forfeit twice the amount of the pledge - money 
which they have received ; whereas if the youth re- 
fuses to proceed he merely forfeits the pledge-money 
($i i) already paid to the girl's parents. Some families 
pay a marriage portion of $30 only, and others (such 
as the family of 'Toh Kaya Kechil of Klang) pay 
as much as $50, but exceptions are rare, $44 being 
now generally recognised as the customary wedding 

However, the girl's family does not really receive 
anything like the full value of the $44, because if the 
$44 is paid in full the proposer has a right to de- 
mand a complete outfit (persalinan) of silk attire, to 
the value of about $20, so that the amount which 
actually changes hands is seldom more than about 

The Malay fiancde, unlike her European sister, is 
at the utmost pains to keep out of her lover's way, and 
to attain this object she is said to be " as watchful as a 
tiger." No engagement-ring is used in this neigh- 
bourhood, no priest (or Lebai) is present at the 
engagement ceremony, nor is the girl asked for her 
consent. On the other hand, a regular system of ex- 
changing presents, after the engagement, is said to 
have been formerly in vogue in Selangor, the man 
sending betel-leaf, fruit, and eggs to his fiancee from 
time to time in net-work receptacles, and the woman 
sending specially prepared rice, etc. in rush-work re- 
ceptacles of various patterns. It is said, too, that the 
woman would occasionally carve a chain, consisting of 
three or four links, out of a single areca-nut, in which 
case the prospective bridegroom was supposed to re- 
deem it by the payment of as many dollars as there 
were links. The betel-nut presented on these occa- 



- V 



O i 



s <* 

U '/! 




sions would be wrapped up in a gradation of three 
beautifully worked cloths, not unlike " D'oyleys " 
in general appearance, whilst the actual engagement 
ceremony in former days is said to have received ad- 
ditional interest and formality from the recital of verses 
appropriate to the occasion by chosen representatives 
of each party. Specimens of the betrothal verses for- 
merly used in Selangor will be found in the Appendix. 
The following is a translation : 

" Q. Small is my cottage, but it has five shelves 
For roasting the kerisi fish ; 
Hearken, good people, whilst I inquire of you 
What is the price of your Diamond l here ? 

A. Your fishing-line must be five fathoms long 
If you would catch the tenggiri fish ; 
Seven tahils, a kati, and five laksa? 
That is the price of our Diamond here. 

Q. If there are no rengas trees growing on the Point, 
One must go up-stream and cut down a screw-palm ; 
If one has not gold in one's girdle, 
One must make over one's person to begin with. 

A. If there are no rengas trees growing on the Point, 

You must take banyan-wood for the sides of your trays ; 

If you have no gold in your girdle, 

You need not hope to get Somebody's daughter. 

Q. Thousands are the supports required 

For the stem of the sago-palm to recline upon ; 3 
Though* it be thousands I would accept the debt 
So I be betrothed to Somebody's daughter. 

1 Diamond, i.e. the girl about whom cal expression = sa-ktti lima laksa, i.e. 

T^e wooing party has come to treat. 150,000 cash (pitis). Vide Kl. sub 

' 2 The kati is the " Indian " pound voce. 

(ij pound avoir.), and the tahil is its 3 i.e. when the sago is being ex- 
sixteenth part. The phrase sakati lima traded from the stem, 
is'explained by Klinkert as an ellipti- 


A. My head-kerchief has fallen into the sea, 
And with it has fallen my oar-ring ; l 
I stretch out my hand in token of acceptance, 
Though I have naught wherewith to requite you. 

Q, Oar-ring or no, 

The lenggundi bush grows apace in the thatch channels. 

Whether it is well to go slowly or no, 

It is the favour you have shown me that subdues my heart." 

If, however, there is a hitch in the proceedings, and 
the parties commence to lose their temper, the stanzas 
may end very differently ; for instance, the girl's father 
or representative will say : 

"A. My lord has gone up-stream 

To get his clothes and wash out the dye. 2 

If that is all, let it alone for the present ; 

If there is anything else you will always find me ready. 

Q. 'Che Dol Amat's mango-tree 

When it fell rolled into the swamp. 

If I cannot get what I want by peaceful means, 

Look that you be not hit in the war of strategy. 

A . If the rim is not properly fitted to the rice-box, 8 
Let us get saffron-rice and roast a fowl. 
If I cannot get you to make acknowledgment, 
Let Heaven reel and Earth be submerged." 

These last two lines constitute a direct challenge, 
and no more words need be wasted when once they 
have been uttered. 


When the term of betrothal is drawing to its close, 
a suitable day (which is frequently a Tuesday) is 

1 The native substitute for a rowlock. merely a longer form of biku), not ap- 

2 y . j- pearing in any dictionary. The next 

line also is not quite clear, but it would 

" This line is obscure, the word appear to mean " let us make sacrifice," 
" bingku " (which I have translated rim, rice stained with saffron being always 
on the supposition that it may be used sacrificially. 




chosen for the work of decoration (b$rgantong-gan- 
tong] by the parents of both parties, and notified to 
the relations and friends who wish to assist in the 
preparations for the wedding. 1 

Both houses are decorated with vertically striped 
hangings (/ ' lang tabir) and ornamental ceiling-cloths 
(langit '- langit\ and mats, rugs, carpets, etc. are laid 
down. In the bridegroom's house little is done 
beyond erecting a small platform or dais (petarana) 
about six feet square, and raised about ten inches from 
the floor, upon which he is to don his wedding gar- 
ments when he sets out to meet the bride. A similar 
platform (petarana} is erected in the bride's house, and 
a low dais called rambat in front of her door, at the 
outer corners of which are fixed two standard candle- 
sticks (iiang rambat}, which are sometimes as much as 
six feet high, and each of which carries three candles, 
one in the centre and one on each side, those at the 
side being supported by ornamental brackets (sulor 
bayong). The rambat may measure some 14 feet in 

1 In Denys' Descriptive Dictionary 
of British Malaya, under the word 
" Marriage," we find : 

' ' The only terms for marriage in 
Malay are the Arabic and Persian ones, 
respectively nikah and kah-win, the 
native ones having probably been dis- 
placed by these and forgotten." 

Both these words are used inSelangor, 
the first (nikah), which properly signifies 
the mere ceremony or " wedding," 
being more commonly used by the 
better class of Malays than the more 
comprehensive kahwin, which corre- 

ands pretty nearly to the English 
vord " marriage." Words describing 
the married state with reference to one 
of the parties only, however, are in 
frequent use : such as the bfrsuami 
and bfristri of the higher classes, and 

the bMaki and bfrbini of the common 
people ; and yet again there is the word 
b/rumah-rumah, which is applied indif- 
ferently to either of the two parties or 
to both, and is the politest word that can 
be used with reference to the common 
people, but is never applied to Rajas, 
in whose case btrsuami and btristri 
alone are used. 

I may add, on the authority of Mr. 
H. Conway Belfield, lately Acting- 
Resident of Selangor, that a curious 
periphrastic expression is sometimes 
used by Perak women in talking of their 
husbands, whom they call rumah 
tangga, which literally means "House 
and House-ladder, " and which is tanta- 
mount to saying, " My household,'' in- 
stead of " My husband." 

2 B 


length by 5 feet in width, and should be about 14 
inches in height. 

A dais (with two steps to it) is then built as follows, 
generally opposite the doorway, but standing a little 
way back from it, and facing the rambat, so as to 
leave a narrow passage (tela kechit] between the 
threshold and the dais, which latter is decked with 
scarlet, or at least scarlet-bordered cloth (kain berumpok 
dengan sakalat}. The lower step of the dais (ibu grei] 
is raised about 1 2 inches from the floor, and measures 
from 10 feet to 12 feet in length by 8 feet in width. 
The upper step (grei penapak] is a little smaller, and 
is only raised about 10 inches above the lower one. 
The top of the dais is covered with a mattress, and 
both steps are decorated with expensive borders, which 
at the wedding of a Raja are made of embossed gold 
or silver, and may easily cost as much as $150 each, or 
even more. The mattress is covered in its turn 
with a quilt (lihap or pelampap\ made of coloured 
silk stuffed with cotton ; upon this quilt is laid a white 
cotton sheet, and the whole is surmounted by a row of 
colossal " pillows " (of the size of small packing-cases), 
surmounted by others of moderate size. 

A mosquito-curtain is hung over all, and the com- 
pleted couch is called pelamin. The head of the 
pelamin, it must be added, where the pillows are piled, 
is always on the left-hand side as you look towards it. 

The number of the pillows used is of the highest 
importance, as indicating the rank of the contracting 
parties. The larger ones are about 5 feet in length 
and 2 feet in height by ij feet in width. They 
are covered with rich embroidery at the exposed 
end, and are arranged in a horizontal row (sa-tunda), 
with their sides just touching, in the front left- 


hand corner of the mosquito-curtain, so as to leave 
a clear passage of about 3 feet behind them (at the 
back of the curtain) by which the bride and bridegroom 
may escape to ihefltfraduan after the ceremony. These 
big pillows are white, with the exception of the em- 
broidered ends, unless they are intended for a Raja, 
when the royal colour (yellow) is of course substituted. 
The one nearest the centre of the couch is called 
bantal tumpu, and usually has a hexagonal or (in the 
case of a Raja) octagonal bolster deposited beside it. 

The smaller pillows are red (occasionally purple, 
ungu, or orange, jingga], and are called the " em- 
broidered pillows " (bantal bertekat, or bantal p'rada). 
Occasionally a set of twelve small pillows is used 
(when they are called bantal dua-b'las, or the Twelve 
Pillows), but often there is only one of them to each 
" Big Pillow," the set of twelve being said to be an 
innovation, probably introduced from Malacca. Some- 
times, however, when many small pillows are piled upon 
each other, measures have to be taken to keep them 
from falling, in which case the space between the piles 
is said to be filled up with wool or cotton stuffing 
(Penyclat\ the front being covered with embroidered 
cloth, the upper border of which is carried up diagon- 
ally from the top of one pile to the top of the next. 

As regards the permissible number of big pillows, 
according to a scale in use at Klang, the common 
people are allowed three big pillows (including the 
bantal tumpu} ; a wealthy man, four ; and a Headman, 
such as the 'Toh Kaya Ke'chil, five ; a Raja being pre- 
sumably allowed one or two more. According to this 
scale it is only the big pillows that are of importance, 1 

1 I remember Mr. C. H. A. Turney telling me of a great disturbance that 
(then Senior District Officer at Klang) arose at Klang because too many of 


and the people are allowed to use as few or as many 
small ones as they like. The topmost small pillow, 
however, is always triangular, and is called giinong- 

The mosquito-curtain (enclosing the couch on 
which the pillows rest) of course varies in size accord- 
ing to the dimensions of the pelamin, but may be 
roughly taken to be from 7 to 9 hasta 1 in length, by 8 
ft. in width, and 4 ft. to 5 ft. in height (reaching to the 
ceiling-cloth). Its upper edges (kansor) are stiffened 
externally with a square frame, consisting of four 
bamboo rods (galah Klambu), and it is decorated in 
front with a beautifully embroidered fringe called " Bo- 
tree leaves " (daun budi}. The front of this mosquito- 
curtain is rolled up 2 to within 2 or 3 ft. of the top, 
instead of being drawn aside as usual. At the back 
of the curtain is suspended, except in the case of a 
Raja's wedding, a bamboo clothes-rod (buluh sangkut- 
kan kain). This rod terminates at each extremity in 
an ornamental piece of scroll-work (sulor bayong] 
covered with scarlet cloth, which is sometimes made to 
issue from a short stem of horn or ivory, and has a 
wooden collar called dulang-dulang. This dulang- 
dulang, moreover, is sometimes provided with small 
hollows (^mbat-mbaf) at the top, two in front which 
are filled with rose-water or perfume (ayer mawar 
or ayer wangi), and two at the back which are 
filled with flowers. 

these big pillows were being used at 2 There is, I believe, a special cere- 

a Malay wedding. Order was only mony connected with the opening of 

restored by the intervention of the this curtain which is performed by the 

police. bridegroom after the wedding cere- 

1 A hasta is the length of the fore- mony, special cakes, called " curtain - 

arm from the elbow to the tip of the openers " (kueh pembuka 

middle finger, or about eighteen inches. being eaten. 



Above the clothes-rod, and between its suspending 
cords (tali ptnggantong] which, by the way, are also 
covered with scarlet cloth an inner fringe of " Bo- 
leaves " (daun budi dalam) is sometimes added at the 
top of the curtain. 

At the wedding of a Raja nothing else should be 
put inside the curtain, but at an ordinary wedding a 
few small articles of typical marriage furniture are 
usually added as follows : 

Three or four small clothes boxes (saharati), such 
as are kept by every Malay family, and peti kapor 
(boxes whose corners are strengthened and decorated 
with brass) are ranged upon the mattress just below the 
clothes-rod. Upon these should be placed (a) the 
bangking, which is a kind of jar or urn of lacquered 
wood, ranging from about half a foot to a foot in 
height, and contains a portion of the bride's wardrobe ; 
and () the bun, 1 which is either octagonal (peckak 
dlapan), or hexagonal (peckak anam), as the case may 
be, and which may be described as a box of tin, or 
sometimes of lacquered wood, whose contents are 
as follows : ( i ) a couple of combs (sikat dua bilafi], 
one with large and one with small teeth ; (2) a small 
cup or saucer of hair oil (a preparation of cocoa-nut oil), 
or attar of roses (minyak attar], or pomatum (kateneh) ; 
(3) a small pen-knife for paring the nails ; (4) a pair 
of scissors ; (5) a preparation of antimony (chelak], 
which is a sort of black ointment applied by the Malays 
to the inside edge of the eyelids ; and (6) a Malay 
work-box (called dulang in Selangor and bintang at 
Malacca), which is a circular box of painted or lacquered 

1 C. and S. give " Bun (Dutch), a is given as a " trunk" in a Dutch Die- 
large tin or copper box for tobacco or tionary. 
sirih leaves Van der Tuuk." " Bun " 


wood, furnished with a lid, and containing needles, 
cotton, and the rest of the Malay housewife's parapher- 

Near the door of the curtain is placed an earthen- 
ware water -jar, called gelok (gelok Kedah and 
gelok Perak are the usual "makes"); this jar 
stands upon a small brass or earthenware plate with 
high sides (bokor), and its mouth is covered with a 
brass or earthenware saucer (chepir\ on which is laid 
the brass or earthenware bowl (fienchedok ayer or 
batil} which is used for scooping up water from the 
water-jar, and which, when it is in use, is temporarily 
replaced by an ornamental cap woven from strips of 
screw-palm leaves. A couple of candlesticks placed 
near the water -jar, a betel tray (tepah or puan), a 
basin (batil besar] for washing off the lees of henna, 
and a " cuspadore " (ketor\ all of which are placed 
inside the curtain, complete the preparations for this 
portion of the ceremony. 

The day concludes, as far as the workers are con- 
cerned, with a meal in which all who have assisted 
in the preparations take part, and this is followed 
by various diversions dear to Malays, such as the 
chanting of passages from the Koran. 1 

At a royal wedding, either the " Story of 'Che 
Megat" (Che Megat Mantri), or a royal cock-fight 
(main denok), or a performance by dancing girls or 
fencers (pedikir), may be substituted for these more 
devotional exercises. 

These performances (whatever they may be) are 
kept up (with intervals for rest and refreshment) till 
four or five in the morning, when the guests disperse 

1 This is called main zikir or, is unaccompanied, and zikir bfrdah if 
more commonly, jikir maulud if it accompanied by musical instruments. 

.2 a 


to their respective homes to sleep off the night's 

Whilst the games are progressing (at about nine 
or ten P.M.) the first staining of the finger-nails of the 
bride and bridegroom is commenced, the ceremony 
on this occasion being conducted in the seclusion of 
the inner apartments, and hence called the " Stolen 
Henna-staining" (berhinei ckuri). Leaves of henna 
are taken and pounded together with a small piece 
of charcoal, and the " mash " is applied to the finger- 
nails of both hands (with the exception of the middle 
or " Devil's finger," jari hantu\ The centre of 
each palm is also touched with the dye, the area 
stained being as much as would be covered by a 
dollar. A line (of a finger's breadth) is also said to 
be drawn along the inner side of the sole of each foot, 
from the great toe to the heel (hinei kaus\ 

A couple of what we should call "pages," of 
about ten years of age, are seated right and left of 
the bridegroom, and are called Pengapit. 

The bride usually provides herself with one or 
more girl companions ; but these are supposed to 
" hide themselves " when there is company, their place 
being taken by more staid duennas, who are called 
Tukang Andam (i.e. "coiffeurs"), and a personal 
attendant or nurse, called Mainang (Mak Inang,} 
who appears to act as a sort of Mistress of the 

The second day is spent by the guests (as was 
said above) in sleeping off their night's fatigue, and 
they do not reassemble till evening, at about five P.M. 

When the last has arrived (at about seven P.M.) a 
meal is served, and at about half-past eight the games 
recommence ; but after a round or so (zikir sa-jurus\ 


say at about ten P.M., the bride at her house and 
bridegroom at his respectively make their first ap- 
pearance in public, clad in their wedding garments, 
for the ceremony of staining the finger-nails, this 
time in public. When they are seated (between the 
two candlesticks, which are lighted to facilitate the 
operation) a tray is brought forward, furnished with 
the usual accessories of Malay magic, rice - paste 
(tepong tawar], washed rice, "saffron" rice, and 
parched rice, to which is added, in this instance, a 
sort of pudding of the pounded henna- leaves. A 
censer is next produced, and a brass tray with a foot 
to it (called s&mVrip) is loaded with nasi berhinei 
(pulut or "glutinous" rice stained with saffron), in 
which are planted some ten to fifteen purple eggs 
(dyed with a mixture of brazil wood (sepang] and lime, 
and stuck upon ornamental sprays of bamboo decorated 
with coloured paper). The bride (or bridegroom) is 
then seated in a "begging" attitude, with the hands 
resting upon a cushion placed in the lap ; the first of 
the guests then takes a pinch of incense from the 
tray and burns it in the brazier (temp at bara] ; next he 
takes a pinch of parched rice, a pinch of newly-washed 
rice, and a pinch of saffron rice, and, squeezing them 
together in the right fist, fumigates them by holding 
them for a moment over the burning incense, and then 
throws them towards the sitter, first towards the right, 
then towards the left, and finally into the sitter's lap. 

The " Neutralising Paste " * is then brought and 
the usual leaf -brush dipped into the bowl of paste, 
with which the forehead of the sitter and the back 
of each hand are duly " painted." 

1 Tgpong tawar, or "Neutralising (membuang sial); for further details 
Paste," is believed to avert ill-luck vide Chap. III. pp. 77-81, supra. 

vi USE OF HENNA 377 

A pinch of the henna is then taken and dabbed 
upon the centre of each palm, the hands of the sitter 
being turned over to enable this to be done. 

The sitter then salutes the guest by raising his (or 
her) hands with the palms together before the breast 
in an attitude of prayer ; the guest replies by a similar 
action, and the ceremony is at an end. 

The same operation is performed by from five 
to seven, or even nine, relations (Orang IVaris, lit. 
" Heirs,") the last operator concluding with an Arabic 

While this ceremony is proceeding inside, music 
strikes up and a special dance, called the Henna 
Dance (menari hinei]^ is performed, a picturesque 
feature of which is a small cake of henna, which is 
contained in a brazen cup (gompong kinei] and sur- 
rounded by candles. This cup is carried by the 
dancer," who has to keep turning it over and over 
without letting the candles be extinguished by the 
wind arising from the rapid motion. 

The step, which is a special one, is called the 
"Henna-dance Step" (Langkah tar 1 kinei, i.e. tari 
hinei], and the tune is called the " Henna-staining 
tune " (Lagu berhinei]. 

This ceremony over, the "henna-staining" rice 
(nasi berhinei} is partaken of by those present, the 
remainder being distributed to the guests engaged in 
" main zikir" 

On the third night the same ceremonies are 
repeated without variation. 

On the fourth morning, called the " Concluding 

1 Not at a Raja's wedding. 
2 This ceremony is also called mfnyllcmg or bMtbat, 


Day " (ffari Langsong)> everybody puts on his 
finest apparel and jewellery. 

The bride's hair is done up in a roll (sanggul] 
and this is surmounted with a head-dress of artificial 
flowers (called grak gempa), cut out of p'rada kresek 
("crackling tinsel") and raised on fine wires; her 
forehead is bound with a band or fillet of tinsel 
gold- leaf (ftrada Siam] being used by the rich 
which is called tekan kundei, and is carried round 
by the fringe of the hair (gigi rambut} down to 
the top of each ear (pelipis) * ; for the rest the 
bride is clad in a "wedding jacket" (baju pengantin), 
which has tight-fitting sleeves extending down to the 
wrist, or sleeves with gathers (simak] over the arm, 
and which is generally made of " flowered satin " 
(siten berbunga) in the case of the rich, or of cloth 
dyed red with kasumba^ (kain kasumba) in the 
case of the poorer classes. This " wedding jacket " 
fits tightly round the neck, has a gold border (pen- 
depun y mas), is fastened with two or three gold 
buttons, and fits closely to the person ; the wealthy 
add a necklace or crescent -shaped breast -ornament 
(rantei merjan or dokok] round the bride's neck. 
She also wears bracelets (glang) and ear-rings (subang] 
and perhaps anklets, of five different metals (keron- 
chong panchalogam). A silk sarong, which takes the 
place of a skirt, and is girt about the waist with a 
waist-cord (but not usually, in Southern Selangor, 
fastened with belt and buckle), and a pair of silk 
trousers, complete her attire. 

1 One of these fillets, which was The substitute used by poor people is 

purchased by the writer, had for its frequently manufactured from the leaf 

pattern two dragons (naga), which of the thatch-palm (nipah). 
looked different ways, and a couple of 2 According to v. d. Wall this plant 

butterflies as pendants at each end. is Carthamus tinctorius. 




The groom, on the other hand, is clad in his best 
jacket and trousers, with the Malay skirt (sarong], 
fastened at the side, and girt above the knee (kain 
ktimbang). His head is adorned with the sigar, a 
peculiar head-dress of red cloth arranged turbanwise, 
with a peak on the right-hand side, from which arti- 
ficial flowers (gunjei) depend, and which preserves its 
shape through being stuffed with cotton- wool. Its 
border is decorated with tinsel, and it has a gold 
fringe (kida-kida). Besides this head-dress the bride- 
groom has a small bunch of artificial flowers (sunting- 
sunting) stuck behind each ear, whilst two similar 
bunches are stuck in the head-dress (one on the right 
and the other on the left). 

Bridegrooms, however, who belong to the richer 
classes wear what is called a tester ( = destar ?}, whilst 
former Sultans of Selangor are said to have worn a 
gold cap (songkok leleng), which is reputed to have 
contained eighteen bongkal 1 (or bungkal} of gold. 

The remainder of the company are of course merely 
dressed in their best clothes. 

The "Rice of the Presence" (nasi adap-adap} is 
now prepared for what is called the astakona or 
setakona, which may be described as a framework 
with an octagonal ground-plan, built in three tiers, and 
made of pulai or meranti or other light wood ; it has 
a small mast (tiang) planted in the centre, with cross 
pieces (palang-palang) in each of the upper stories to 
keep it in its place ; the framework is supported by 
four corner-posts, on which it is raised about a foot and 
L a half from the floor. The box thus formed is filled to 

1 A weight used for weighing the 822 grains troy ; according to Max- 
precious metals. According to C. and well, Manual of the Mai, Lang., p. 141, 
S. Diet., s.v. Bungkal, it is equal to to 832. 


the top with "saffron rice" (nasi kunyif), and in the 
rice at the top are planted the aforesaid coloured eggs. 
I nto a hole at the top of the mast is fitted the end of a 
short rattan or cane, which is split into four branches, 
each of which again is split into three twigs, whilst on 
the end of each twig is stuck one of the coloured eggs 
(telor joran), an artificial flower, and an ornamental 
streamer of red paper called layer? which is cut into 
all sorts of artistic and picturesque patterns. 

The setakona is erected in front of the pelamin, 
on which the bride takes her seat at about 4 P.M. to 
await the coming of the bridegroom, the members of 
her own bridal party, including the Muhammadan 
priest or Imam, continuing the zikir maulud in the 
reception room at frequent intervals from 9 A.M. 
until the bridegroom's arrival. The arrangements 
are completed by placing ready for the bridegroom the 
"Bridal Mat" (lapik nikati), which consists of a mat 
of screw-palm leaves (or in the case of a Raja, a small 
quilt, embroidered in the manner called Jong saraf] 
five cubits of white cloth, which are rolled up and put 
on one side, and a tray of betel. 

Returning to the bridegroom, holy water (ayer 
sembahyang] is now fetched in a cherek (a kettle- 
shaped vessel) or bucket, for the bridegroom to wash 
his face and hands, and he then proceeds to put 
on his wedding garments, as described above, 
after which a scarf (salendang] is slung across his 
shoulder. The marriage procession (perarakan) 
then sets out, the women heading it (penganjor) and 
the men following, the bridegroom carried upon some- 

1 The mast with its branches carry- atic of a fruit-tree, the eggs represent- 
ing artificial flowers, streamers, and ing the fruit, the artificial blossoms its 
coloured eggs, appears to be emblem- flowers, and the streamers its leaves. 


8 I 


body's shoulders (di-sompoJi), and right and left the 
musicians beating drums, tabors, etc., whilst those who 
have any skill amuse the company with exhibitions of 
Malay fencing (main silaf] and dancing, etc., to the 
accompaniment of the zikir intoned by their com- 

The arrival of the bridegroom at the bride's house 
is the signal for a mimic conflict for the person of the 
bride, which is called melawa, and is strangely remi- 
niscent of similar customs which formerly obtained in 

In some cases a rope or piece of red cloth would 
be stretched across the path to bar the progress of the 
bridegroom's party, and a stout enough resistance 
would be offered by the defenders until the bridegroom 
consented to pay a fine which formerly amounted, it 
is said, to as much as $20, though not more than $3 
or $4 would now be asked. Occasionally the bride- 
groom would pay the fine by pulling the ring off his 
finger and handing it to the bride's relations, but the 
ceremony would not unfrequently end in a free fight. 
Verses were recited on these occasions, of which a few 
stanzas will be found in the Appendix. 1 

On arriving at the door the musicians strike up 
their liveliest tune, and as the bridegroom is carried 
up the steps he has to force his way through an 
Amazonian force consisting of the ladies of the bride's 
party, who assemble to repel the invader from the 
threshold. A well-directed fire is maintained by others, 
who pour upon the foe over the heads of the defenders 

1 For instance, in reply to an appeal " Even the woodpecker knows how to fly, 
from the Bride's Relations to "take And how much more the lory ; 

. ., , . .. , . ., Even my grandsire s commands I take into 

into account the duty which is the custom account, 

of the country," one of the Bridegroom's And how much more the duty imposed by 

Relations would repeat the following: 


repeated volleys of saffron rice (or, at a royal wedding, 
ambor-ambor i.e. clippings from a thin sheet of 
silver or gold which are thrown among the crowd as 

Meanwhile the bridegroom persists until his efforts 
are crowned with success, and he makes his way 
(assisted possibly by some well-meant act of treachery 
on the part of the garrison) to the reception room, 
when the mat already referred to is unrolled and the 
white cloth suspended over it. Here the bridegroom 
takes his seat and the priest comes out to perform the 
wedding ceremony. 1 This, strangely enough, is per- 
formed with the bridegroom alone, the priest saying to 
him in the presence of three or four witnesses and 
his surety (wali), generally his father, " I wed you, 
A., to B., daughter of C., for a portion of two 
bharas" To this the bridegroom has to respond 
without allowing an interval, " I accept this marriage 
with B., for a portion of two b haras" (or one bhara 
if one of the parties has been married before). Even 
this short sentence, however, is a great deal too much 
for the nerves of some Malay bridegrooms, who have 
been known to spend a couple of hours in abortive 
attempts before they could get the Imam to "pass" 
it. As soon, however, as this obstacle has been 
surmounted, the priest asks those present if they will 
bear witness to its correctness, and on their replying 
in the affirmative, it is followed by the "bacha salawat" 
which consists of repeated shouts from the company 

1 It is said that this is a departure widow who has no children by her 
from the old custom, according to which former husband there is no procession 
the wedding ceremony took place the at all, and the ceremonies are some- 
day before the procession (except at what abridged. I may add that a 
the re-marriage of a widow who has childless widow has the subang (ear- 
no children, kahwin janda berhias). rings which are the symbol of virginity) 
In the case of the re-marriage of a tied on to her ears. Vide p. 360, supra. 

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of " Peace be with thee." This part of the ceremony 
completed, one of the brothers or near relations of the 
bridegroom leads him into the bridal chamber, and 
seats him in the usual cross-legged position on the 
left side of the bride, who sits with her feet tucked up 
on his right. Even the process of seating the couple 
(bVrsanding) is a very fatiguing one ; each of them 
has to bend the knees slowly until a sitting posture is 
reached, and then return to a standing posture by 
slowly straightening the knees, a gymnastic exercise 
which has to be repeated thrice, and which requires the 
assistance of friends. 1 

The seating having been accomplished, friends put 
in the right hands of bride and bridegroom respectively 
handfuls of rice taken from the nasi setakona ; with 
this the two feed each other simultaneously, each of 
them reaching out the hand containing the rice to the 
other's mouth. (This part of the ceremony is often 
made the occasion for a race.) 

The bridegroom is then carried off by his friends 
to the outer chamber, where he has to pay his respects 
(minta ma'af, lit. " ask pardon ") to the company, after 
which he is carried back to his old post, the bride in 
the meantime having moved off a little in the mosquito 

1 A couple of matronly ladies are 2. They are similarly raised, and 

generally told off for this service, the repeat as before, in turn, the words, 

ceremony being as follows : "Assuredly I will not do thee any 

I. They raise first the man and then shame whatever " (Sahya ta'buleh buat 

the woman slowly to a standing posture ; satu apa kamaluan di-atas awak). 

when it is reached the bridegroom says 3. When raised for the third and 

to the bride, " Take heed, care for thy last time they say, " I ask the Lord 

husband, care for my good name, care God to give us both long life, and 

Jfbr me " (Baik-baik jaga laki awak, that all our handiwork may prosper " 

jaga nama saAya, jagakan aku) ; to (Sahya mint a* kapada Tuhan Allah bUr- 

this the bride responds in a similar sama-sama panjang 'umor, samua k&ja 

strain, mutatis mutandis, and they are dtngan salamat). 
then as slowly re-seated. 


The sweetmeats are then brought and handed 
round, the setakona is broken up, and the bundles 
of rice wrapped in plantain leaves which it contains 
distributed to the company as largess or berkat. 
Each of the company gets one of the telor chachak, 
the telor joran being reserved for the Imam and 
any person of high rank who may attend, e.g. a 
Raja. 1 

This completes the wedding ceremony, but the 
bridegroom is nominally expected to remain under the 
roof (and eye) of his mother-in-law for about two years 
(reduced to forty-four days in the case of "royalty"), 
after which he may be allowed to remove to a house 
of his own. No Kathi 2 was present until quite recently 
at marriages in Selangor, nor has it in the past been 
the practice, so far as I could find out, for him to 
attend. Sir S. Raffles gives as part of the formula 
used in Java : " If you travel at sea for a year, or 
ashore for six months, without sending either money 
or message to your wife, she will complain to the 
judge and obtain one talak (the preliminary stage of 
divorce)," and this condition should, strictly speaking, 
be included in the Malay formula. It is now growing 
obsolete, but was in former days repeated first by the 
priest, and then by the bridegroom after him. The 
marriage portion (isi kahwin, Arabic mahar) is here 
generally called tflanja kahwin or mas kahwin? No 
wedding-ring should, strictly, be given. 

1 It used to be considered an insult with marriage, divorce, and ecclesiasti- 
to omit offering one of these eggs to a cal affairs generally. The Imam is the 
guest, so much so, that I was assured chief elder of one mosque. 

that in former days a woman whose 3 There is a difference bet ween Vlanja 

husband had been thus slighted would and mas kahwin, the former usually 

have a right to sue for a divorce. meaning the wedding expenses, the 

2 The Kathi is an official having latter the dower ; at least this is the 
superintendence over several mosques Malacca terminology, which probably 
and jurisdiction in matters connected also obtains elsewhere. 


For three days lustrations are continued by the 
newly-married pair, but before they are completed, and 
as soon as possible after the wedding, friends and 
acquaintances once more put on their finery, and 
proceed to the house to pay their respects, to bathe, 
and to receive largess. 

On the third day after the hari langsong there is a 
very curious ceremony called mandi tolak bala, or mandi 
ayer salamat (bathing for good luck). 

On the night in question the relatives of the bride- 
groom assemble under cover of the darkness and make 
a bonfire under the house of the newly-married couple 
by collecting and burning rubbish ; into the fire thus 
kindled they throw cocoa-nut husks and pepper, or 
anything likely to make it unpleasant for those within, 
and presently raise such a smoke that the bridegroom 
comes hastily down the steps, ostensibly to see what 
is the matter, but as soon as he makes his appearance, 
he is seized by his relatives and carried off bodily to 
his own parents' house; these proceedings being known 
as the stealing of the bridegroom (churi pengantiii). 
Next day there is a grand procession to escort him 
back to the house of his bride, which he reaches about 
one o'clock in the afternoon, the processionists carrying 
" Rice of the Presence " (nasi adap-adafi} with the eggs 
stuck into it as on the last day of the wedding, two 
sorts of holy water in pitchers, called respectively ayer 
salamat (water of good luck), and ayer tolak bala (water 
to avert ill-luck), vases of flowers (gumba] containing 
blossom-spikes of the cocoa-nut and areca-nut palms, and 
young cocoa-nut leaves rudely plaited into the semblance 
of spikes of palm-blossom, k'risses, etc. etc., together with 
a large number of rude syringes manufactured from joints 
of bamboo, and called panah ayer, or "water-bows." 

2 c 


A set of similar objects (including nasi adap-adap], 
is prepared by the relatives of the bride, and deposited 
upon the ground in the place selected for the bathing 
ceremony. A bench being added for the bride and 
bridegroom to sit upon, the ceremony commences with 
the customary rite of tepong tawar, after which the two 
kinds of holy water, ayer tolak bala and ayer salamat, 
are successively thrown over the pair. 

Now, according to the proper custom, during the 
proceedings which follow, all the bride's relatives 
should surround the bride's seat, and the bridegroom's 
relatives should stand at a distance ; but, in order to 
save themselves from a wetting, the women of both 
parties now usually assemble round the bride and 
bridegroom, where they are protected by a sheet which 
is hung between them and the men ; for all the young 
men now proceed to discharge their " water arrows," 
and as they are stopped by the sheet they proceed to 
turn their syringes against each other, until all are 
thoroughly wetted. 

Meanwhile a young cocoa-nut frond, twisted into 
a slip-knot with V-shaped ends (something like the 
" merry thought " of a fowl), is presented to the bride 
and bridegroom, each of whom takes hold of one end, 
and blowing on it (sembor) thrice, pulls it till it comes 
undone, and the lepas-lepas rite is concluded. Finally, 
a girdle of thread is passed seven times over the heads 
and under the feet of the bride and bridegroom, when 
the bridegroom breaks through the thread and they 
are all free to return homewards. This latter ceremony 
is called 'lat-lat. The guests then return to their 
homes, divest themselves of their wet garments, and 
put on their wedding attire. The bersuap-suapan, or 
feeding ceremony, is then performed (both vessels 


of adap-adap rice being used), and then all parties 
disperse for the usual games. Seven days after the 
" Concluding Day " (Hari Langsong), the ceremony 
of Discarding the Earrings (i.e. subang, the emblems 
of virginity) is performed by the bride. 

Raja Bot of Selangor, who attaches great importance 
to the lustration ceremony, and says that it ought not 
to take place later than the seventh day (at a Raja's 
wedding), thus describes the full ceremony as once 
arranged by himself: A small bath-house was built 
at the top of a flight of seven steps, and water was 
pumped up to it through a pipe, whose upper end was 
made fast under the roof of the shed, and terminated 
in the head of a dragon (naga\ from whose jaws 
the water spouted. The steps were completely lined 
with women, of whom there must have been an 
immense number (no men being allowed to be present), 
and the Raja and his bride bathed before them. A 
royal bath-house of this kind is called balei pancha 
tiersada, and should be used not only at " royal " 
weddings, but at coronations (waktu di-naubatkan} ; 
it is described in the following lines : 

" Naik balei pancha persada 
Di-hadap uleh saga/a JBiduaiida, 
Dudok semaiam dengan bertakhta. 
Mandi ayer yang kaluar di mulut Naga " 

which may be translated : 

" Ascend to the Royal Bath-House 
In the presence of all your courtiers, 
Take your seat in royal state, 

And bathe in the water that flows from the Dragon's 

It must not be supposed that, with such a mass of 
detail, many things may not have been overlooked, 


but it may be remarked as some sort of a practical 
conclusion to this account, that the Malay wedding cere- 
mony, even as carried out by the poorer classes, shows 
that the contracting parties are treated as royalty, 
that is to say, as sacred human beings, and if any 
further proof is required, in addition to the evidence 
which may be drawn from the general character of the 
ceremony, I may mention, firstly, the fact that the 
bride and bridegroom are actually called Raja Sari, 
(i.e. Raja sa-kari, the "sovereigns of a day"); and, 
secondly, that it is a polite fiction that no command 
of theirs, during their one day of sovereignty, may be 

I will now give accounts of two Malay weddings 
which took place at Klang : both accounts were com- 
posed by respectable Malays, the first one being trans- 
lated by Mr. Douglas Campbell of Selangor, and the 
second by the present writer : 

"The following account of the ceremonies con- 
nected with the marriage of Siti Meriam, a daughter 
of the Orang Kaya Badu, 1 of Selangor, to Wan 
Mahamed Esa, a son of Datoh Mentri 2 Ibrahim of 
Perak, has been furnished by a Malay contributor, 
Haji Karrim, and in translating it into English an 
endeavour has been made to follow, as far as possible, 
the style of the native writer. 

" On Monday, the ist of August, the house was pre- 
pared and the hangings and curtains put up, and on 
that evening the ceremony of dyeing the fingers of the 
bridegroom with henna was performed for the first 
time. Then there were readings from the Koran, 
with much beating of drums and kettledrums and 

1 The descendant of one of the four great Chiefs (Orang Besar btr-ampat) 
of Selangor. 2 Ex- Prime Minister of Perak. 


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Malay dances, and when this had gone on for some 
time, supper was served to all the men present in the 
balei, or separate hall, and to the women in the house 
adjoining. Supper over, readings from the Koran and 
beating of drums were continued till daylight. 

" On Tuesday evening the dyeing of the fingers of 
the bridegroom was performed for the second time, as 
on the preceding evening. 

"The third occasion of dyeing the fingers of the 
bridegroom took place on Wednesday evening, but 
with much more ceremony than previously. The 
bridegroom, after being dressed in silks and cloth of 
gold, was paraded in an open carriage. On each side 
of him was seated a groom'sman shading him with a 
fan, and behind, holding an umbrella over him, was 
another. And thus, with many followers beating drums 
and singing, and with the Royal ffVftfeMbox, on which 
are seated the dragons known as naga pura and 
naga taru, and with two Royal spears carried before 
him and two behind, the bridegroom was taken 
through the streets in procession. On arriving at the 
bride's house he was received with showers of rose- 
water, and then conveyed by the elders to the raised 
dais on which the bride and bridegroom awaited their 

" The bridegroom being seated, fourteen of the 
elders came forward and dyed his fingers with henna, 
and afterwards others, who were clever at this, followed 
their example. While this was going on there was 
much beating of gongs and drums, and then the same 
process of dyeing was repeated on the bride by women 
Next the Imam came, and, after stating that the 
dowry was $100 cash, heard Wan Mahamed Esa 

1 Sink or sirih, the betel leaf. 


publicly receive Siti Meriam as his wife, whereupon 
the Bilal l read a prayer and afterwards pronounced a 

" Supper was then served to all the guests present 
as before, the men having their meal in the 6a/ei 
and the women in the house adjoining, and singing 
and dancing was kept up until daylight. 

" On Thursday afternoon the bride, dressed in her 
best, with her father and relations, received the Resi- 
dent, who was accompanied by Mrs. Birch, the Senior 
District Officer and Mrs. Turney, Captain and Mrs. 
Syers, Mr. Edwards, and many other ladies and 
gentlemen. Cakes and preserves were served, of 
which the ladies and gentlemen present partook. 
Then the bridegroom arrived, seated in an open 
carriage with a groom'sman on each side of him, while 
one, carrying the Royal silk umbrella, kindly lent by 
H.H. the Sultan, went before him. 

" The procession was headed by one of the Royal 
spears, and two more were carried before the bride- 
groom and two behind him, and so, accompanied by 
the Selangor Band, kindly lent by the Resident, and 
by a crowd of people singing and beating gongs and 
drums, he was conveyed to the bride's house. His 
arrival was greeted with showers of rice, and he was 
seated, together with the bride, on the dais, where 
they, with the assistance of Mr. and Mrs. Birch, helped 
each other to partake of yellow rice. 

" So the marriage was completed satisfactorily, and 
then, as it was evening, the Resident and Mrs. Birch, 
and the other ladies and gentlemen present, returned to 

1 The Bilal is an elder of the mosque ; in western Muhammadan countries he 
is styled Muezzin. 


Kuala Lumpur ; the people who remained amusing 
themselves with dagger dances (main dabus). 

44 On Friday evening the bride and bridegroom left 
for Jugra in the Esmeralda, which had been lent by 
the Resident, to pay their respects to H.H. the Sultan, 
returning to Klang on Saturday. 

" On the same afternoon the ceremony of the bath 
was performed, to the great satisfaction of every one 
present, and was kept up till six o'clock, by which time 
every one was wet through. 

44 This was the last ceremony in connection with the 
marriage, and then every one wished the bride and 
bridegroom much happiness." 

The following account was translated by the 
writer : 

44 Preparations for the wedding of Inche Halimah, 
daughter of Sheikh 'Abdul Mohit Baktal, and Said 
4 Abdul Rahman Al Jafri, commenced on Monday, the 
2nd of August 1895. 

44 The mosquito-curtain, tapestries and canopies were 
suspended, and decorations, including the marriage 
furniture (peti betuah dan bangking}, arranged. More- 
over, the bridal couch was adorned with decorations 
of gold and mattresses raised one above the other, one 
with a facing of gold and the other with a facing of 
silver, and four pillows with gold facings, and five 
piled-up pillows with silver facings ; and the kitchen 
apparatus was got ready, including ten pans and 
coppers of the largest size, and the sheds for those who 
were to cook rice and the meats eaten therewith. On 
this day, moreover, a buffalo was sent by Towkay 
Teck Chong, with the full accompaniments of music, 
and so forth. 

1 Selattgor Journal, vol. i. No. 2, p. 23. 


" On Tuesday, the 3rd day of the month, took place 
the first Henna-staining, the bride being led forth by 
her Coiffeur and seated upon the marriage throne. 
And the bride seated herself against the large pillow, 
which is called ' The Pillow against which One Rests,' 
or bantal saraga. And towards evening all the rela- 
tives on the woman's side sprinkled the tepong tawar 
(upon the forehead and hands of the bride), and after 
the Henna-staining, dishes of confectionery and pre- 
served fruits were offered to all the guests who were 
present in the reception-room. 

" And on the 3rd 1 day of the month there took place 
in like manner the second Henna-staining. And on 
the 5th day of the month took place the Private Henna- 
staining (berhinei ckuri] ; the bride's hair being dressed 
after the fashion known as Sanggul Lintang, and 
further adorned with ornaments of gold and diamonds 
to the value of about $5000. And after this Henna- 
staining all persons present descended to the rooms 
below, where fencing and dagger dances, and music 
and dancing were kept up at pleasure. 

" On the 6th day of the month, being Friday, Inche 
Mohamad Kassim, Penghulu of the Mukim of Bukit 
Raja, was commissioned by Datoh Penghulu Mohit to 
summon the bridegroom, inasmuch as that day was 
fixed for the marriage rite. And the bridegroom, 
wearing the robe called jubah and a turban tied after the 
Arab fashion, 2 arrived at about three o'clock, and was 
met by the priest (Tuan Imam) at the house. Very 
many were the guests on that day, and many ladies 

1 Probably this should be 4th. not unusual even in the case of purely 

2 He was of Arab extraction. But Malay bridegrooms, 
wearing clothes in the Arab fashion is 


and gentlemen, and his renowned Highness the 
Tungku Dia-Uddin, were assembled in the house. 

"And the Tuan Imam read the marriage service, 
Datoh Pgnghulu Mohit giving his permission for Tuan 
Haji Mohamad Said Mufti to wed Inche Halimah to 
Said 'Abdul Rahman Al Jafri, with a marriage portion 
of $100. And after the marriage rite Tuan Imam 
proceeded to read prayers for their welfare. And 
afterwards dishes of rice were brought, of which the 
guests present were invited to partake. And when 
all had eaten, the Coiffeur led forth the bride to the 
scaffolding for the ceremony called ' Bathing in State.' 
And upon that same evening took place the Great 
Henna-staining, and the guests assembled in exceed- 
ing great numbers, both men and women, and filled 
the house above and below to overflowing. And 
when the henna-staining was completed, all the men 
who were present chanted (bacha maulud) until day- 

"And upon the 7th day of the month, being Satur- 
day, the bride being adorned, the bridegroom seated 
in a buggy was drawn in procession at about 5 o'clock 
from the house of his renowned Highness Tungku Dia- 
Uddin, accompanied by the Government Band and all 
kinds of music, to the house of the Datoh Penghulu, 
where he was met and sprinkled with saffron-rice and 
rose-water. Afterwards, being seated on the marriage 
throne side by side, both husband and wife, they 
offered each other in turn the mouthfuls of saffron-rice 
which were presented by the ladies and gentlemen 
.and His Highness Tungku Dia-Uddin. 

"And afterwards the elder relatives on the side of 
both husband and bride presented the rice, and Inche 
Mohamad Kassim presented red eggs (telor berjoran) 


to all the ladies and gentlemen, and the bridegroom 
led the bride with him into the bridal chamber by the 
finger, walking upon cloth of purple and gold. And 
afterwards all the ladies and gentlemen were invited 
to eat and drink, and the band played, fireworks and 
artificial fires were burned, and great was the bright- 
ness thereof, and all the young people danced and sang 
at their pleasure until the evening was spent." l 

The marriage customs hitherto described have 
been only such as are based on a peaceful understand- 
ing between the parents of the contracting parties. An 
account of Malay marriage customs would not, how- 
ever, be complete without some mention of the customs 
which regulate, strange as it may seem, even the 
forcible abduction of a wife. Of these customs Sir 
W. E. Maxwell says : 

"The word panjat in Malay means literally 'to 
climb,' but it is used in Perak, and perhaps in other 
Malay States, to signify a forcible entry into a house 
for the purpose of securing as a wife a woman whom 
her relations have already refused to the intruder. 
This high-handed proceeding is recognised by Malay 
custom, and is regulated by certain well-known rules. 

" Panjat is of two kinds panjat angkara and panjat 
'adat entry by violence and entry by custom. In the 
first case, the man makes his way into the house armed 
with his kris, or other weapon, and entering the 
women's apartment, or posting himself at the door, 
secures the person of his intended bride, or prevents 
her escape. He runs the risk of being killed on the 
spot by the girl's relations, and his safety depends 

1 Selangor Journal, vol. iv. No. 2, buffaloes, a bullock, goats, spices, plate, 
pp. 23-5. The list of presents sent and jewellery, 
by friends on this occasion included 


upon his reputation for courage and strength, and upon 
the number of his friends and the influence of his 
family. A wooer who adopts this violent method of 
compelling the assent of unwilling relations to his 
marriage to one of their kin must, say the Malays, 
have three qualifications 

" Ka-rapat-an baniak, 
Wang-nia ber-lebi/i, 
Jantan-nia ber-lebih, 

1 A strong party to back him, plenty of money, and no 
lack of bravery.' 

" Plenty of money is necessary, because, by accepted 
custom, if the relations yield and give their consent 
all the customary payments are doubled ; the fine for 
the trespass, which would ordinarily be twenty-five 
dollars, becomes fifty dollars ; the dower is likewise 
doubled, and the usual present of clothes (salin) must 
consist of two of each of the three garments (salendang, 
baju, kain\ instead of one as usual. The fine for 
panjat angkara may be of any amount, according to 
the pleasure of the woman's relations, and they fix it 
high or low according to the man's position. I have 
heard of one case in Perak, where the fine was five 
hundred dollars, and another in which the suitor, to 
obtain his bride, had to pay one thousand seven hun- 
dred and fifty dollars, namely, one thousand two hun- 
dred and fifty dollars as a fine, and five hundred dollars 
for the marriage expenses. But in this case the girl 
was already betrothed to another, and one thousand 
dollars out of the fine went to the disappointed rival. 

" Sometimes the relations hold out, or the man, for 
want of one of the three qualifications mentioned above, 
has to beat an ignominious retreat. In the reign of 
Sultan Ali, one Mat Taib, a budak raja, or personal 


attendant on the Sultan, asked for Wan Dena, the 
daughter of the Bandahara of Kedah (she then being 
at Kota Lama in Prak) in marriage. Being refused 
he forced his way into the house, and seizing the girl 
by her long hair drew his kris, and defied everybody. 
No one dared to interfere by force, for the man, if 
attacked, would have driven his kris into the girl's 
body. This state of things is said to have lasted three 
days and three nights, during which the man neither 
ate nor slept. Eventually he was drugged by an old 
woman from whom he accepted some food or water, 
and when he fell asleep the girl was released from his 
grasp and taken to the Sultan's palace, where she was 
married off straightway to one Mat Arshad. Mat 
Taib had his revenge, for within a year he amoked at 
Bandar, where Mat Arshad lived, killing the latter and 
wounding Wan Dena. 

" Panjat 'adatis a less lawless proceeding. A man 
who is in love with a girl, the consent of whose parents 
or relations he cannot obtain, sends his kris to their 
house with a message to the effect that he is ready 
with the dower, presents, etc., doubled according to 
custom, and that he is ready to make good any 
demands they may make. 

" The kris is symbolical of the violent entry, which 
in this case is dispensed with. If the girl's guardians 
are still obdurate they send back the kris, but with it 
they must send double the amount of the dower offered 
by the man. 1 " 

1 Sir William Maxwell in N. and Q., No. 4, sec. 91, issued with No. 17 of 
the/. X.A.S., S.B. 





When a man dies, the corpse (called Maiat, except 
in the case of a Raja, when it is called Jenaja or 
JPnazak) is laid on its back, and composed with the 
feet towards Mecca, and the hands crossed (the right 
wrist resting upon the left just below the breast-bone, 
and the right fore-finger on the top of the left arm). 
It is next shrouded from head to foot in fine new 
sarongs, one of which usually covers the body from 
the feet upwards to the waist, the other covering it 
from the waist to the head. There are generally (in 
the case of the peasantry) three or four thicknesses of 
these sarongs, but when a rich man (prang kayo] 
dies, as many as seven may be used, each of the seven 
being made in one long piece, so as to cover the body 
from the head to the feet, the cloth being of fine 

1 " At their funerals the corpse is 
carried to the place of interment on a 
broad plank, which is kept for the 
public service of the ditsun, and lasts 
for generations. It is constantly nibbed 
with lime, either to preserve it from 
decay or to keep it pure. No coffin 
is made use of, the body being simply 
wrapped in white cloth, particularly of 
the sort called hummnms. In forming 
the grave (kubur), after digging to a 
convenient depth they make a cavity 
in the side, at bottom, of sufficient 
dimensions to contain the body, which 
is there deposited on its right side. By 
this mode the earth literally lies light 
upon it ; and the cavity, after strewing 
flowers in it, they stop up by two boards 
fastened angularly to each other, so 
that the one is on the top of the corpse, 
whilst the other defends it on the open 
side, the edge resting on the bottom 
of the grave. The outer excavation is 
then filled up with earth ; and little 
white flags, or streamers, are stuck in 
order around. They likewise plant a 
shrub, bearing a white flower, called 

kumbangkamboja (Plumeria ol>tusa),a.n& 
in some places wild marjoram. The 
women who attend the funeral make 
a hideous noise, not much unlike the 
Irish howl. On the third and seventh 
day the relations perform a ceremony 
at the grave, and at the end of twelve 
months that of tegga l>atu, or setting 
up a few long elliptical stones, at the 
head and foot, which, being scarce in 
some parts of the country, bear a con- 
siderable price. On this occasion they 
kill and feast on a buffalo, and leave 
the head to decay on the spot, as a 
token of the honour they have done to 
the deceased in eating to his memory. 
The ancient burying-places are called 
kranimat, and are supposed to have 
been those of the holy men by whom 
their ancestors were converted to the 
faith. They are held in extraordinary 
reverence, and the least disturbance or 
violation of the ground, though all 
traces of the graves be obliterated, is 
regarded as an unpardonable sacrilege,'' 
Marsden, Hist. cfSumatra(e<\.. 1 8 1 1 ), 
pp. 287, 288. 


texture, of no recognised colour, but richly interwoven 
with gold thread, while the body is laid upon a mat- 
tress, which in turn rests upon a new mat t pandanus 
leaf; finally, all but the very poorest display the hang- 
ings used on great occasions. At the head of the 
corpse are then piled five or six new pillows, with two 
more on the right and left side of the body resting 
against the ribs, while just below the folded hands are 
laid a pair of betel-nut scissors (kackip best], and on 
the matting at either side a bowl for burning incense is 
placed. Some say that the origin of laying the betel- 
nut scissors on the breast is that once upon a time a 
cat brushed against the body of a dead person, thereby 
causing the evil influence (badi) which resides in cats 
to enter the body, so that it rose and stood upon its 
feet. The "contact with iron" 1 prevents the dead 
body from rising again should it happen by any mis- 
chance that a cat (which is generally the only animal 
kept in the house, and which should be driven out of 
the house before the funeral ceremonies commence) 
should enter unawares and brush against it. From 
this moment until the body is laid in the grave the 
" wake " must be religiously observed, and the body be 
watched both by day and night to see that nothing 
which is forbidden (pantang] may come near it. 2 

1 The explanation usually given by It is still the custom to keep both 
Malays is that the betel -nut scissors the hearth-fire (api dapor) and lamps 
symbolise iron. Short weapons are (palita) burning not only for so long 
sometimes substituted. as the corpse may be in the house, but 

2 Tradition says that formerly the for seven days and nights after occur- 
corpse was watched for three days be- rence of the death. It is also the 
fore burial, and that sometimes it was custom to open the sick person's mos- 
kept for a week or even a longer period. quito-curtain when death is approach- 
One Raja S'nei is reported to have been ing, and in some cases, at all events, 
kept 40 days in her coffin above ground ! the dying are taken out of their beds 
It is also stated that before the intro- and laid upon the floor. I may add 
duction of Muhammadanism the dead that the material for fumigation (pfra- 
were burned. btm) is placed upon the hearth-fire after 

vi THE COFFIN 399 

The Imam, Bilal, or Khatib, or in their absence the 
Pah Doja, or Pah Le"bai, is then summoned, and early 
notice of the funeral is given to all relations and friends 
to give them an opportunity of attending. Meanwhile 
the preparations are going on at the house of the 
deceased. The shroud (kain kapari) and plank or 
planks for the coffin are got ready : of coffins there are 
three kinds, the papan sakeping (the simplest form, 
generally consisting of a simple plank Q{ p^lla^ or jelu- 
tong wood about six feet long by three spans wide), 
the karanda (a plain, oblong plank box, of the same 
dimensions), and the long (consisting either of two 
planks which form a sort of gable with closed ends 
called kajang rungkop, or the long betul, which is like 
three sides of a box with its sides bulging out, both 
ends open, and no bottom). Varnish or paint is for- 
bidden in Malay coffins, but the planks are washed to 
insure their cleanliness, and lined with white cloth 
(alas put eh\ About three inches of earth is put into 
the karanda ordinarily, but if the coffin is to be kept, 
about a span's depth of earth, quicklime, and several 
katis^ of tea-leaves, rush -piths (sumbii kumpai], and 
camphor are also deposited in it, in successive layers, 
the rush-piths at the top. Afterwards when the corpse 
has been laid on the top, tea-leaves are put at front and 
back of the corpse as it lies. 

The next operation is to wash the corpse, which is 
carried for this purpose into the front or outer room. 
If there are four people to be found who are willing to 
undertake this disagreeable duty, they are told to sit 

a death, to scare away the evil spirits, the demons who are believed to be 

just as salt is thrown upon the fire casting the thunderbolts. 

during a thunderstorm, in order that it T The kati is a weight equivalent to 

may counteract the explosions of thunder i^ Ib. avoirdupois. 

(rnfmbalas pttir), and thus drive away 


upon the floor in a row, all looking the same way, and 
with their legs stretched out (belunjor kaki), the body 
being then laid across their laps (riba). Several men 
are then told off to fetch water in jars, scoop it out of 
the jars and pour it on the body in small quantities by 
means of the "scoop" (penckedok ayer], which is usu- 
ally a small bowl, saucer, or cocoa-nut shell (tempurong\ 
It frequently happens, however, that this unpleasant 
task finds no volunteers, in which case five banana 
stems are turned into improvised " rollers " (galang), 
on which the body is raised from the floor during the 
process of washing (meruang). When the body is 
ready for washing, a chief washer (orang meruang] is 
engaged for a fee of about a dollar ; this is usually the 
Bilal or Imam, who "shampoos" the body whilst the 
rest are pouring water on it. The body then under- 
goes a second washing, this time with the cosmetic called 
ayer bedak which is prepared by taking a handful 
of rice (sa-genggam bras), two or three " dips " of lime 
(cholek kapur\ and a pinch of gambier (gambir sa-chubif] 
the last three being the usual concomitants of a 
single " chew " of the betel-leaf and pounding them 
up together with the rice. When pounded they are 
mixed with water (di-banchor *) in a large bowl holding 
about two gallons, the water at the top being poured 
off into a vessel of similar capacity, and scooped up 
and sprinkled as before on the corpse. The next 
washing is with juice of limes. Four or five limes 
(limau nipis] are taken, the ends cut off, and each lime 
slashed crosswise on the top without completely sever- 
ing the parts. These limes are then squeezed (di-ramas- 
kan] into another large bowl containing water, and the 
washing repeated. The final washing, or "Nine Waters" 

1 The form found in most dictionaries is banchoh or banchnli. 


(ayer sambilan, so called from the water being scooped 
up, and poured thrice to the right, thrice to the left, 
and thrice over the front of the corpse from head to 
foot) is performed with fresh water as at first, and 
the whole ceremony when completed is called bedara. 
The washing completed, the orifices e.g. ears, nostrils, 
eyes are generally stopped with cotton, and the body 
is carried back to its mattress, and laid in a shroud of 
white cotton cloth, which should be about seven feet 
long by four feet in width (salabuK), so that the edges 
meet over the breast. After this the last kiss is given 
by the nearest relatives, who must not, however, disturb 
the corpse by letting their tears fall upon its features. 
The shroud is usually of three thicknesses in the case 
of poor people, but wealthier families use five, and 
even seven- fold shrouds. In Selangor, however, 
each shroud is usually a separate piece of cloth. The 
dead body of a child is sometimes covered in addition 
with a fine sort of white powder (abok tanah or taya- 
mam), which is sprinkled over the face and arms. 
Five knots are used in fastening the shroud, the ends 
being drawn up and tied (kochong] by means of the 
unravelled hem or selvage of the shroud torn into tape- 
like strips? which are bound thrice round the body at 
the breast, the knees, and the hips respectively, as 
well as above the head and below the feet. The 
corpse is then laid on the mattress or mat again, this 
time with its head to the north, and on its right side 
looking towards the west (Mecca), which is the position 
it is to occupy in the grave. Prayers are then offered 
by four or five "praying-men" (orang menyembah- 

1 Whence the expression " charik of the shroud, and not to tear off a 
kapan" which means literally to tear piece of cloth to form the shroud), 
the shroud (i.e. to tear off the selvage 

2 D 


yang), who know the burial service by heart, the Bilal 
or Imam joining in the service, and all turning towards 
the west in the usual way. One "praying-man" is 
sufficient, if no more are to be had, his fee ranging 
from 50 cents to a dollar in the case of the poorer 
classes, and among the rich often amounting to $5 or 
$6. This service is held about i P.M. so as to give 
plenty of time to carry the body to the grave and 
return before nightfall. 

A jugful of eagle-wood (gkaru) and sandal-wood 
(chendana) water is then prepared, a small piece of 
each wood being taken and grated on a stone over 
the jug until the water becomes appreciably scented ; 
about twenty leaves of the sweet-scented pandanus 
(pandan wangi] are then added, together with a 
bunch of fragrant areca-palm blossoms, and other 
scented flowers, such as the champaka and kenanga, 
which are shredded (di-iris] into a wooden tray and 
mixed together, whilst fragrant essences, such as rose- 
water (ayer mawar), lavender water (ayer labenda), 
attar of roses (minyak attar or turki) are added when 
obtainable. A betel - leaf tray containing all the 
articles required for chewing betel is then prepared, 
together with a new mat of pandanus-leaf, in which 
are rolled up five hasta^ of white cloth, and a brass 
bowl or alms box, in which latter are to be placed 
the contributions (sedekak) of the deceased's rela- 
tions. The preparations are completed by bringing 
in the bier (usongan), which has to be made on 
purpose, except in towns where a bier is kept in the 

In the case of the single plank coffin the body is 
laid on the plank (which is carried on the bier) and 

1 Cubit, the length of the forearm. 


a sort of wicker-work covering (lerang - lerang) of 
split bamboo is placed over the corpse, so as to 
protect it on its way to the grave. In the case of 
the karanda the body is laid in the coffin, which is 
carried on the bier ; and in the case of the long, there 
being no bottom in this form of coffin, the body lies 
on a mat In each case the bier is covered with a 
pall (kain tudong] of as good coloured cloth (never 
white, but often green) as may be obtainable. There 
are generally two or three of these coverings, and 
floral decorations are sometimes thrown across them, 
the blossoms of the areca-palm and the scented pan- 
danus being woven into exquisite floral strips, called 
"Centipedes' Feet" (j'ari lipari), about three feet 
long by two fingers in breadth, and laid at short 
intervals across the pall. There are generally from 
five to six of these floral strips, the areca blossom 
alternating with the pandanus. The number of 
bearers depends on the rank of the deceased ; in the 
case of a Sultan as many as possible bear a hand in 
sending him to the grave, partly because of the 
pahala or merit thereby obtained, and partly (no 
doubt) for the sake of the sedekah or alms given to 
bearers. The procession then starts for the grave ; 
none of the mourners or followers here wear any 
special dress or sign of mourning, such as the white 
sash with coloured ribbon which is sometimes worn at 
Singapore (unless the kabong putek or strip of white 
cloth which is distributed as a funeral favour at the 
death of a Sultan may be so reckoned). The only 
mourning which appears to be known to Malays is 
the rare use of a kind of black edging for the en- 
velopes of letters, and that is no doubt copied from 
the English custom, though I may add that a letter 


which announces a death should have no kapala? 
Loud wailing and weeping is forbidden by the Imam 
for fear of disturbing the dead. The mosque drum 
is not usually beaten for funerals in Selangor, nor is 
the body usually carried into the mosque, but is borne 
straight to the tomb. If the coffin is a single plank 
one, on arriving at the grave (which should have 
been dug early in the morning) an excavation is made 
on the left side of the grave for the reception of the 
corpse, the cavity being called Hang lahad. Three 
men then lower the corpse into the grave, where 
three others are waiting to receive it, and the corpse 
is deposited in the cavity on its right side (mengiring 
ka lambong kanan], looking towards the west (Mecca), 
and with the head therefore lying towards the north. 
Four pegs (daka-dakd) are then driven in to keep 
the plank in a diagonal position and prevent it from 
falling on the body, while the plank in turn protects 
the corpse from being struck by falling earth. 

The karanda is lowered into the centre of the 
grave in the same way as a European coffin, the 
body, however, being invariably deposited in the 
position just described ; whilst the long acts as a sort 
of lid to a shallow trench (just big enough to contain 
the body) which is dug (di-fcroli} in the middle of the 
grave-pit. The five bands swathing the corpse (lima 
tali- pengikat maiaf) are then removed, and at this 
point the bystanders occasionally hand lumps of earth 
(tanah sa-kepat) to the men standing in the pit, who, 
after putting them to the nostrils of the deceased 
" to be smelled," deposit them at the side of the 
grave, when they are shovelled in by those standing 

1 The short motto which usually heads Malay letters. 

vi BURIAL 405 

at the top. 1 The filling of the grave then proceeds, 
but as it is " taboo " (pantang) to let the earth strike 
against the coffin in its fall, the grave-diggers, who 
are still standing in the pit, receive it as it falls 
upon a sort of small hurdle or screen made of 
branches, and thence tilt it into the grave. As the 
grave (which is usually dug to about the level of a 
man's ear) fills up, the grave-diggers, who are for- 
bidden to shovel in the soil themselves, tread down 
the earth and level it, and they are not allowed to 
leave the pit till it is filled up to the top. One of 
the relations then takes a piece of any hard wood, 
and rudely fashions with a knife a temporary grave- 
post (nisan or nts/ian), which is round in the case 
of a man and flattened in the case of a woman ; one 
of these grave-posts is placed exactly over the head 
(rantau kapald] and the other over the waist (rantau 
pinggang\ not at the feet as in the case of Europeans. 
Thus the two grave-posts are ordinarily about three 
feet apart, but tradition says that over the grave of 
a kramat or saint, they will always be found some five 
or six feet at least apart, one at the head and one 
at the feet, and it is said to be the saint himself who 
moves them. To the knob of the grave-post is tied 
a strip of white cloth as a sign of recent death. 2 

Leaves are then strewn on the ground at the left 
of the grave, and the five cubits of white cloth alluded 

1 I may add that in pre-Muham- the earlier form of a tomb was a cir- 
madan days certain articles are said to cular mound with a single grave-post 
have been buried with the corpse, viz. in the centre. It is said that such 
"Pros sa-p'riol:,asam,garam, "together mounds were formerly used in Sungei 
with (in the case of a man) rough Ujong, but I am unable to say if this 
wooden models of the deceased's is so. Sultan Zeinal 'Abidin of Johor 
weapons. is also described as having a tomb of 

2 Tradition says that originally one this description at Kota Tinggi. 
grave-post (nisan) was used, and that 


to above are spread out to form a mat, upon which 
the Imam takes his seat, the rest of the company 
being seated upon the leaves. Eagle - wood and 
sandal - wood water (ayer gharu chendand] is then 
brought to the Imam, who pours it out in three 
libations, each time sprinkling the grave from the 
head to the foot. If any water is left, the Imam 
sprinkles it upon any other graves which may be 
near, whilst the shredded flowers (bunga rampai] 
are then similarly disposed of. Next is read the 
talkin, which is an exhortation (ajaran) addressed to 
the deceased. It is said that during the process of 
reading the Talkin the corpse momentarily revives, 
and, still lying upon its side, raises itself to a listen- 
ing position by reclining upon its right elbow (ber- 
telku) and resting its head upon its hand. 1 This 
is the reason' 2 ' for removing the bands of the shroud, 
as the body is left free to move, and thus in groping 
about (meraba-raba) with its left hand feels that its 
garment is without a hem or selvage, and then first 
realising that it must be really dead, composes itself 
to listen quietly to whatever the Imam may say, 
until at the close of the exhortation it falls back 
really lifeless! Hence the most absolute silence 
must be observed during the exhortation. The Imam 
then repeats, by way of "doxology," the tahalil 
or meratib, " la-ilaha-illa- llah " ("there is no god 
but God "), in company with the rest of the assembly, 

1 This notion probably arose from an strips into a rough sort of bracelet, 
erroneous idea of etymological connec- which they wear as long as it lasts in 
tion between the words talkin and memory of the deceased. Little chil- 
bfrtglku. dren are made to pass thrice underneath 

2 Of course if the karanda is used the karanda of their parents when 
the bands have to be removed before it it is first lifted in the chamber, "to 
is nailed down. On their removal prevent them from pining for the 
these bands are handed to the next-of- deceased." 

kin, who tear them up and plait the 


all present turning their heads and rocking them- 
selves from side to side as they sit, whilst they 
reiterate the words a hundred times, commencing 
slowly till thirty-three times are reached, then in- 
creasing the pace up to the sixty -sixth time, and 
concluding with great rapidity. The contributions 
in the alms-basin (batil) are then divided among the 
entire company as alms (sedekaJi). The master of 
the house then invites those present to partake at 
about five P.M. of the funeral feast, which in no way 
differs from an ordinary Malay banquet, the more 
solid portion of the meal (makan nasi] being fol- 
lowed by the usual confectionery and preserved fruits. 
The Imam then reads prayers, and the company 
breaks up. The decorations for the funeral are left 
for three days undisturbed. During these three 
days the nearer neighbours are feasted, both in the 
morning and evening, at the usual Malay hours ; and 
for three days every night at about ten P.M. the 
service called " Reading the Koran to the Corpse " 
(mengajikan maiat] is performed, either by the 
Imam or somebody hired for the purpose. This is 
an important duty, the slightest slip being regarded 
as a great sin. At the end of the three days there 
is yet another feast, at one P.M. (kanduri meniga 
hari], when those who are farther off are invited, 
and after this meal the tahalil is repeated as before. 

On the seventh day a similar feast (called kanduri 
menujoh hari] is followed by the tahalil, which neces- 
sitates a further distribution of fees (sedekah tahalil} ; 
but in the case of poor people this second tahalil may 
be omitted, or the master of the house may say to the 
company, " I ask (to be let off) the praying fees" (Sahya 
minta sedekah tahalil}, in which case the tahalil is free. 


Yet another feast is held on the fourteenth day 
(kanduri dua kali tujoh kari], when the ceremonies 
are at end, except in the case of the richer classes who 
keep the kanduri ampat puloh kari, or forty days' 
feast, and the kanduri meratus hari, or - 100 days' 
feast, whilst the anniversary is also kept as a holiday 
by all who wish to show respect for the deceased. 
This closes the usual funeral ceremonies, but a day is 
generally chosen at pleasure in the month of Ramthan 
or Maulud for the purpose of offering prayers and 
feasting the ancestors. 

The only difference made in the case of the death 
of a woman is that the washing of the corpse devolves 
upon women, whilst in the case of very young infants 
the talkin is sometimes omitted. The woman's nisan, 
as has been explained, is distinguished by its shape. 1 
The temporary nisan may be replaced by a permanent 
one at any time after the funeral. At the time the 
grave is made up, four planks (dapor-dapor), with the 
upper edges and ends roughly carved and scolloped, are 
placed round the grave mound (tanah mati) to keep 
the earth from falling down. Whenever the grave is 
thus finally made up a feast is held, but from the 
necessities of the case this pious duty is generally left 
to the rich. 


"The successful practice of (Malay) medicine must 
be based on the fundamental principle of ' preserving 
the balance of power ' among the four elements. This 
is chiefly to be effected by constant attention to, and 

1 From observing a good many of evolved from a phallic emblem, whilst 

these grave-posts in different localities, that used for women occasionally 

I should be inclined to suppose that assumes a rude resemblance to a human 

the grave-post used for men had been being. 


moderation in, diet. To enforce these golden precepts, 
passages from the Koran are plentifully quoted against 
excess in eating or drinking. Air, they say, is the 
cause of heat and moisture, and earth of cold and 
dryness. 'They assimilate the constitution and passions 
of man to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and the seven 
planets, etc." 

" The mysterious sympathy between man and 
external nature .... was the basis of that system 
of supernatural magic which prevailed in Europe during 
the Middle Ages." 1 

The foregoing quotation shows that the distinctive 
features of the Aristotelian hygienic theory, as borrowed 
by the Arabs, did eventually filter through (in some 
cases) until they reached the Malays. Such direct 
references, however, to Greek theories are of the rarest 
character, and can hardly be considered typical. 

Most of the more important rites practised by the 
Malay medicine-men (Bomor^ may be divided into 
two well-defined parts. Commencing with a cere- 
monial " inspection " (the counterpart of our modern 
"diagnosis"), the Bomor proceeds to carry out a 
therapeutic ceremony, the nature of which is decided 
by the results of the " inspection." For the purposes 
of the diagnosis he resorts to divination, by means of 
omens taken from the smoke of the burning censer, 
from the position of coins thrown into water-jars 
(batu buyong), and parched rice floating upon the 
water's surface. 

The therapeutic rites, on the other hand, may 
be roughly classified as follows according to their 
types : 3 

1 Newbold, Malacca^ vol. ii. p. 352. 3 There are, it need hardly be said, 

2 As to the titles Bomor and Pawang t innumerable charms and talismans 
see Chapter III. p. 56, note. which are valued by the Malays for 


1. Propitiatory Ceremonies (limas, ambangan, etc.). 

2. " Neutralisatory " Ceremonies for destroying the evil principle 


3. " Expulsory " Ceremonies (for the casting out of the evil 

principle; 1 of which the "sucking charm" rite (mengalin) 
is an example). 

4. " Revivificatory " Ceremonies (for recalling a sick person's 

soul, riang semangaf). 

I shall take each of the types in order. 

For the water-jar ceremony three jars (buyong) con- 
taining water are brought to the sick man's room and 
decorated with the fringe or necklace of plaited cocoa- 
nut leaves, which is called "Centipedes' Feet" (jari 
'lipan). A fourth jar should contain a sort of bouquet 
of artificial flowers to serve as an attraction to the sick 
man's soul (semangaf). You will also require a tray 
filled with the usual accessories of Malay magic 
ceremonies (incense, three sorts of rice, etc.), besides 
three wax tapers, one of which you will plant upon the 
brim of each of the three jars. 

When all is ready, drop the incense upon the 
embers, and as the smoke rises repeat this charm : 

" If you are at one with me, rise towards me, O smoke ; 
If you are not at one with me, rise athwart me, O smoke, 
Either to right or left." 2 

As you say this, " catch " the first puff of smoke and 

their supposed efficacy in preventing such as an egg, a substituted image or 

disease; there are also an immense scapegoat (tukarganti), a "Spirit-Hall," 

number of short charms (often mere or spirit-boat, in which the evil spirits 

texts from the Koran) which are con- are carried out of the house and got rid 

sidered invaluable for checking minor of; or else he may induce a stronger 

ailments. It being impossible, how- spirit, e.g., the Tiger Spirit (vide infra), 

ever, in the scope of this work to to enter into his own person, and 

give specimens of the entire "materia assist him in the task of evicting the 

medica " of the Malays, examples of offender. 

the more important branches only are 2 Jikalau sa-rasi dengan aku, m/nga- 

given. dap-lah angkau, asap, kapada'ku, 

1 The Pa-wang may either effect this kalau to? sa-rasi, m2lintang-lah 'kau 

himself, by luring the evil spirits out of dlngan akn, atau ka kiri, atau ka 

the sick person's body into some object, kanan. 


Model, showing a medicine-man (bomor or pawang) at work, the patient lying in bed with his child 
at his side. The "three jars " (Imyong tiga) used by the medicine-man are standing in a row 
at the side of the room. They are a little too large in proportion. 

Page 410. 


inhale it (tangkap-lah puchok asap, ckium), as it rises 
towards you. If the smell is pleasant (sedap) it is a 
good sign ; if it has a scorched smell (kangit) it is bad ; 
but if it smells offensive (busoK] no medicine can save 
the patient. 

Next, before you look into the jars, take handfuls 
of "parched," "washed," and "saffron" rice, and after 
fumigating them over the incense, strew them all 
round the row of jars, saying as you do so : 

" Cluck, cluck ! souls of So-and-so, all seven of you ! J 
Come, and let all of us here together 
See (about the) medicine for (you) O souls of So-and-so" 

Here strew (tabor) the rice first to the right, then 
to the left, and then to the right again. 

Before removing the calladium-leaves from the jar- 
mouths, repeat the following : 

"Peace be with you, Prophet 'Tap, in whose charge is the earth, 
Suawam, in whose charge are the heavens, 
Prophet Noah, in whose charge are the Trees, 
Prophet Elias, Planter of Trees, 

And Prophet Khailir (Khizr), in whose charge is the water, 
I crave permission to see the remedies for So-and-so" 

Here remove the calladium-leaves from the jar- 
mouths, and taking one of the wax tapers, wave it 
in the smoke of the censer seven times towards the 
right, and say : 

" Peace be with you, O Tanju, I adopt you to be a guardian for 

my brother, 

You who are sprung from the original elements, 
From the former time unto the present, 
You who sprang from the gum of the eyes of Muhammad, 
I ask to see the disease of So-and-so" 

Here plant the taper firmly upon the edge of the 

1 Kur! Stmangat Si Anu ka-tujoh-nya / Mari-lah kita dfrsama-sama ini, 
Tengcfkan ubat, stmangat Si Anu ! 


jar, and "gaze" into the water "to see the signs" 

Thus if there is an oily scum on the water (ayer 
berkrak lemafc) it is a bad sign ; and to this may be 
added that if the calladium-leaf covering has acquired 
a faded look (layu] in the interim, it is a sign of severe 

Fumigate the outside of the jars with the smoke 
of the incense (the medicine-man does this by 
"washing" his hands in the smoke and then rubbing 
over the outside of the jars as if he were " shampooing " 
them) ; and anoint them with "oil of Celebes" (minyak 
Bugis). Then take a "closed fistful" (sa-genggam) of 
parched rice, and holding it over the smoke of the censer 
{ganggang di asap keninyan), repeat this charm : 

" Peace be with you, Mustia Kembang, 
I adopt you as a guardian for my brother, 
If in truth you are sprung from the primordial elements, 
From the former time unto the present, 
I know the origin from which you sprang, 
For you sprang from our Lady Eve (Siti Hawa), 
You I order, your co-operation I invoke, 
That whatsoever shape you assume 
Within this your garden of splendour, 
You break neither plighted faith nor solemn promise." 

Here throw the parched rice into the jars, and 

say : 

" Peace be unto you, O Prophet 'Tap, in whose charge is the 

Prophet Noah in whose charge are the Trees, 
And Prophet Khailir in whose charge is the Water, 

1 crave this water (lit. ' exudation ') as a boon, 
For the healing of So-and-so." 

And observe these signs : 

1. If the water is perfectly still it is a bad sign. 

2. If it is a little disturbed it is a good sign. 


3. If the rice floats in a line across the sun's path (berator 

melintang matahari) it is a fatal sign. 

4. If you see a solitary grain travelling by itself (bersiar) you 

may know the sickness to be caused by the making of an 
image (buatan orang). 

5. If the parched rice travels towards the right of the jar the 

patient will recover quickly. 

6. If it travels towards the left of the jar he will recover, but 


7. If, however, it floats right underneath the candle it is 

generally a fatal sign. 

Next, see what patterns are formed by the rice- 
grains as they lie on the water : 

1. If they take the shape either of a boat or a crocodile, this 

means that the spirit demands the launching of a spirit- 
boat (lanchang). 

2. If they take a square shape, a tray of offerings (anchaK) is 


3. If they take the shape of a house, a ' state-hall ' (balei) is 


Now take all kinds of fragrant flowers and shred 
them (buat bunga rampai), add the shredded blossoms 
of four which are scentless (for instance, blossoms of 
the selaguri, pulut-pulut, bali-adap, and kedudoK), mix 
them and throw them into the jars, then plant in each 
jar the flower-spathe of an areca-palm (mayang pinang). 
Throw into each a "jar-stone" (i.e. a dollar), and the 
jars will be ready. You should then read the fore- 
going charms over each of them. 

The extra jar which is filled with a sort of big nose- 
gay (gumbo) represents a pleasure-garden (taman 
bunga), and is intended to attract the soul (semangat) 
of the sick man. 

Now take parched rice and hold it over the incense 
(di-ganggang) saying :- 

" Peace be with you, O Wheat, 
You I wish to command, your co-operation I invoke 


In ' inspecting ' the sickness of So-and-so. 

Break neither plighted faith nor solemn promise, 

But inspect the sickness of this grandson of Adam, 

This follower of the Prophet Muhammad, of the race of the sons 

of men, So-and-so ; 
If anything should supervene, 
Do you ' stir ' within this pure heart (of mine)." 

Now scatter the parched rice upon the surface of 
the water in the jars, and watch for the signs : 

1. If the rice is lumped together (bulat or berluboK) it is a 

good sign. 

2. If it extends itself crosswise (panjang melintang) it is a bad 


3. If it takes the shape of a spirit-boat (lanchang) you must 

make a spirit-boat ; that is what is wanted. 

4. If it keeps travelling either to the left or the right, it is a 

stream-spirit (anak sungei) which has affected the patient. 

5. If it takes the shape of a crocodile, or anything of that 

sort, it is an earth-spirit (puaka) which has affected the 

The most popular method of propitiating evil 
spirits consists in the use of the sacrificial tray called 

This is " a small frame of bamboo or wood," a 
usually from two to three feet square and turned up 
at the sides, which are decorated with a long fringe 
(jari 'lipan) of plaited cocoa-nut leaf. Four rattan 
" suspenders " of equal length (tali penggantong) 
are fastened to the four corners, and are thence 
carried up to meet at a point which may be from two 
to three feet above the tray. 

These trays appear to be divisible into two classes, 
according to the objects which they are intended 
to serve. In the one case certain offerings (to 

1 If ashore, it is usually suspended tripod, or a projecting pole affixed to 
from a tree. If at sea, from a wooden the seaward end of a fishing-stake. 


Model of the sacrificial tray (attchak) used by the medicine-man, showing the 
kind of fringe round the tray called " centipedes' feet," and the rice receptacles 
of plaited palm -fronds (kftupat and tipai) which are attached to the 
" suspenders" of the tray. 

1'age 414. 


be described presently) are laid upon the tray, which 
is carried out of the house to a suitable spot and 
there suspended to enable the spirits for whom it is 
designed to feed upon its contents. 1 In the other case 
certain objects are deposited upon it, into which the 
evil spirits are ceremoniously invited to enter, in which 
case it must obviously be got rid of after the ceremony, 
and is therefore hung up in the jungle, or set adrift in 
the sea or the nearest river ; in the latter case it is 
called the " keeled sacrifice-tray " (anchak pelunas), 
and falls into line with other objects which are occasion- 
ally set adrift for the same purpose. 

The offerings placed on the sacrificial tray 
vary considerably, according to the object of the 
ceremony, the means of the person for whose benefit 
they are offered, the caprice of the medicine-man who 
carries out the ceremony, and so on. 2 

I shall therefore, in the present place, merely de- 
scribe the contents of a more or less typical tray, with 
the main points of the accompanying ritual. 

The bottom of the tray having been lined with 
banana -leaf, and thickly strewn with parched rice, 
there are deposited in the tray itself five " chews " of 
betel-leaf, five native " cigarettes " (rokofc), five wax 
tapers, five small water -receptacles or limas (made 
of banana-leaf and skewered together at each end), 
and five copper cents (or dollars). The articles just 
enumerated are divided into five portions, one of which 

1 Another method is described by allowed to fly up, and all the things 

Messrs. Clifford and Swettenham (vide on it are scattered by this means," 

their Malay Dictionary, s.v. Anchak) but it is not yet clear to which class 

as follows : " The (anchak pgrbingkas} this use of the anchak should be 

is fastened to the end of a branch, referred. 

which is pulled down almost to the 2 Some of them are enumerated 

ground, and held there while the under Fishing Ceremonies, pp. 311 

medicine-man goes through his incanta- se</y. t supra. See also pp. 76, 257, 260. 
tion or invocation, after which it is 


is deposited in the centre of the tray, and the remainder 
in its four corners. Besides this there are to be 
deposited in the tray fourteen portions of meat (of 
fowl, goat, or buffalo, as the case may be), and fourteen 
portions of Malay "cakes," care being taken in each 
case to see that there are seven portions of cooked 
and seven portions of uncooked food provided. The 
rattan " suspenders," again, are hung with two sets 
of ornamental rice-receptacles made of plaited cocoa- 
nut leaf (fourteen of the long-shaped kind, or lepat, 
and fourteen of the diamond-shaped kind, or ketupaf). 
Besides this, two sets of (cooked and uncooked) packets 
of rice (each stained a different colour) are sometimes 
deposited in the tray, the colours used being white, 
yellow, red, black, blue, green, and purple. The only 
other articles required for the tray are a couple of eggs, 
of which one must, of course, be cooked and the other 

Of the water-receptacles, those in alternate corners 
are filled with water and cane-juice, the central recep- 
tacle being filled with the blood of the fowl (or other 
animal slain for the sacrifice). 

Upon the ground, exactly underneath the tray, 
should be deposited the feathers, feet, entrails, etc., of 
the fowl, portions of whose flesh have been used for 
the tray, together with the refuse of the parched rice 
and a censer. Strictly speaking, a white and a black 
fowl should be killed, but only half of each cooked, the 
remainder being left raw. The "portions" of fowl are 
as small as they can possibly be, a mere symbol 
(*isharat) of each kind of food being all that the spirits 
are supposed to require. Sometimes funnel-shaped 
rice -receptacles are used, which are skewered with 
a bamboo skewer and called keronchot. Occasion- 


ally a standard censer (sangga ?) is used, the end of a 
piece of bamboo being split up and bent or opened out- 
wards for several inches, and a piece of rattan (cane) 
being wound in and out among the split ends, so as to 
form a sort of funnel (about nine inches in diameter at 
the top), which is lined with banana leaf, filled with 
earth, and planted vertically in the ground, great care 
being taken to see that it does not lean out of the per- 
pendicular. Live embers are placed upon it, incense 
crumbled over it (between the finger and thumb), and 
the appropriate charm recited. A specimen of a charm 
or formula used during the burning of incense will be 
found in the Appendix. 1 

The ketupats are called (i) Sri negri (seven- 
cornered), or the "luck of the country"; (2) Buah 
kras (six-cornered), or the " candle-nut " ; (3) Bawang 
puteh (six-cornered), or "garlic"; (4) Ulu pengayoh 
(four-cornered), or the " paddle-handle " ; (5) Pasar 
(five-cornered), or the " market " ; (6) Bawang merah 
(six-cornered), or the "onion " ; (7) Pasar Pahang (six- 
cornered), or the " Pahang market " ; (8) Telor, or the 
11 hen's egg." 

The lepats are called (i) Lepat daun niyor (5-6 
inches long and made of cocoa-nut leaves) ; (2) Lepat 
tilam (of plantain leaves) ; (3) Lepat daun palas (of 
palas leaves, three-sided). 

Diminutive models of various objects (also made of 
cocoa-nut leaves) are often added, e.g. burong ponggok, 
the owl ; kerbau, the buffalo ; rusa, the stag ; tekukur, 
the ground-dove ; ketam, the crab ; and (but very 
rarely) kuda, the horse. 

The things deposited in the tray are in- 
tended for the spirits (Hantus) themselves; the 

1 Vide App. xii. 
2 E 


refuse on the ground beneath it for their slaves 

Of the food in the tray, the cooked food is for the 
king of the spirits (Raja Hantu\ who is sometimes said 
to be the Wild Huntsman (Hantu Pemburu] and some- 
times Batara Guru, and the uncooked for his follow- 
ing. But of the two eggs, the uncooked one is alleged 
to be for the Land-spirit (i.e. the Wild Huntsman), and 
the cooked for the Sea-spirit ; this assertion, however, 
requires some further investigation before it can be 
unreservedly accepted. 

The Wave-Offering 

On one occasion, during my residence in the 
Kuala Langat district of Selangor, I had the good 
fortune to be present at the "waving" of a sacrificial tray 
(anckak) containing offerings to the spirits. The ac- 
count of this ceremony, which I shall now give, is made 
up from notes taken during the actual performance. To 
commence : The Pawang sat down with his back to 
the patient, facing a multitude of dishes which con- 
tained the various portions of cooked and uncooked 
food. The tray itself was suspended at a height of 
about three feet from the ground in the centre of the 
room, just in front of the Pawang's head. Lighting a 
wax taper and removing the yam-leaf covering from 
the mouth of the jar containing "holy" water, the 
Pawang now " inspected " the water in the jar by 
gazing intently into its depths, and re-extinguished the 
taper. Then he fumigated his hands in the smoke of 
the censer, extended them for a brief interval over the 
" holy " water, took the censer in both hands, described 
three circles round the jar with it, set it down again, 


and stirred the water thrice with a small knife or 
dagger (Kris], the blade of which he kept in the water 
while he muttered a charm to himself. Then he 
charmed the betel-stand and the first dish of cooked 
food, pushing the latter aside and covering it 
with a small dish-cover as he finished the charm. 
Next, at the hands of one of the company, he accepted, 
in two pieces, five cubits of yellow cloth (yellow being 
the royal colour), and a small vessel of " oil of Celebes," 
with which, it may be added, he anointed the palms of 
both hands before he touched the cloth itself. Next, 
he fumigated the latter in the smoke of the censer, one 
end of the cloth being grasped firmly in the right hand, 
and the remainder of it being passed round the right 
wrist, and over and under the right arm, while the 
loose end trailed across his lap. Next, after repeating 
the usual charm, he breathed on one end of the cloth, 
passed the whole of the cloth through his fingers, 
fumigated it, and laid it aside ; took an egg which was 
presented to him upon a tray, and deposited it exactly 
in the centre of a large dish of parched rice. Next, 
he pushed aside the jar of holy water, lowered the tray 
by means of the cord attached to it (which passed over 
a beam), and proceeded to supervise the preparation of 
the tray, which was being decorated with the "centi- 
pede" fringe by one of the company acting as an 
assistant. The fringe having been fitted by the latter 
to the edges of the tray, and the latter lined with three 
thicknesses of banana leaf, the Pawang described a 
circle round it thrice with the censer, and then de- 
posited the censer upon the floor, exactly under the 
centre of the tray. Then anointing his hands again he 
passed them over both tray and fringe. A brief pause 
followed, and then the Pawang took the larger piece of 


yellow cloth and wrapped it like a royal robe around 
the shoulders of the patient as he sat up inside his 
mosquito curtain. Another brief pause, and the 
Pawang betook himself once more to the filling of the 
tray. Taking a large bowl of parched rice, he scooped 
up the rice in his hands, and let it run through his 
fingers into the tray, until there was a layer of parched 
rice in the latter of at least an inch in depth, and then 
deposited the egg, already alluded to, in the very 
centre of the parched rice. Next he took a comb of 
bananas (presented by one of the company), and cut- 
ting them off one by one deposited them in a dish, 
from which they were presently transferred to the tray. 
The Pawang now returned to the patient, and kneeling 
down in front of him, fumigated his hands in the smoke 
of the censer, and then, muttering a charm, wrapped 
the smaller piece of yellow cloth turban-wise round his 
own head, and slowly and carefully pushed the yellow- 
robed patient (who was still in a sitting posture) for- 
ward until he reached a spot which was exactly under 
the centre of the tray, and which faced, I was told, the 
"place of the Rising Sun." 

The long straw-coloured streamers of the tray- 
fringe dropped gracefully around the patient on every 
side, and had it not been for occasional bright glimpses 
of the yellow cloth he would have been almost in- 

The censer, voluming upwards its ash-gray smoke, 
was now passed from hand to hand three times round 
the patient, and finally deposited on the floor at his 

The loading of the tray now recommenced, and the 
Pawang standing up and looking towards the south, 
deposited in it carefully the several portions of 


"cooked" offerings (the sum of the various portions 
making up a whole fowl). Then, after washing his 
hands, he added to the tray small portions of rice vari- 
ously prepared and coloured (viz. parched and washed 
rice, and rice stained yellow (saffron), green, red, blue, 
and black, seven kinds in all). Next he deposited in 
the tray the uncooked portions, whose sum also 
amounted to a whole fowl, then, after a further hand- 
washing, the "cakes," and finally, after a last washing, 
he fastened to the " suspenders " l of the tray the small 
ornamental rice-bags called ketupat and lepat? 

But the list of creature comforts provided for the 
spirits comprised other things besides food. Five 
miniature water -buckets, each manufactured from a 
strip of banana leaf skewered together at each end 
with a bamboo pin, were now filled, the alternate 
corner ones with water and cane-juice (called "palm- 
toddy" in the Spirit Language), and the central one with 
the blood of the fowls killed for the sacrifice. They 
were then duly deposited in the tray by the Pawang. 
Five waxen tapers, to "light the spirits to their food," 
were next " charmed " and lighted, and planted in the 
centre and four corners respectively. 

Finally, no doubt for the spirits' after-dinner enjoy- 
ment, five "chews" of betel-leaf and five native-made 
cigarettes (tobacco rolled in strips of palm-leaf), were 
charmed and actually lighted at a lamp, and deposited 
in the tray with the other offerings, and at the same 

1 So called in Malay (tali pfnggan- 8 Kttupat and Ityat. There were 

tong) ; they consist of the four cords fourteen of each kind of bag, the 

rhich start from the four corners of the kZtupats being diamond-shaped and the 

ay respectively, and are carried up to IZpats cylindrical. Each set of fourteen 

eet at a point some two or three feet bags contains seven portions of cooked 

ove the centre of the tray, from which and seven portions of uncooked food, 

aint upwards a single cord only is Vide also supra. 


time five 50 cent (silver) pieces of Straits money, called 
"tray-stones," were added to the medley, evidently 
with the object of preventing the good temper of 
the spirits from being disturbed by " shortness of 

The loading of the tray being now complete, the 
Pawang walked thrice round the patient (who was still 
overshadowed by the tray), and passed the censer 
round him thrice. Standing then with his face to the 
east, so as to look in the same direction as the patient, 
he grasped the " suspenders " of the tray with both 
hands at their converging point, and thrice muttered a 
charm, giving a downward tug to the cord of the tray 
at the end of each repetition. This done, he removed 
the yellow cloth from his head, and fastened it round 
the tray-cord at the point where the " suspenders " con- 
verged, and then "waved" the offering by causing the 
loaded tray with its flaring tapers to swing slowly 
backwards and forwards just over the patient's head. 
Next, letting the tray slowly down and detaching it 
from the cord, at the converging point, he again 
"waved" it slowly to and fro amid the flaring of the 
tapers, seven times in succession, and held it out for 
the patient to spit into. When this was done he 
sallied out into the darkness of the night carrying the 
tray, and gaining the jungle, suspended it from a tree 
(of the kind called petal belalang] which had been 
selected that very day for the purpose. A white ant, 
immediately settling upon the offering, was hailed by 
the Malays present with great delight as a sign that 
the spirits had accepted the offering, whereupon we all 
returned to the house and the company broke up. The 
ceremony had commenced about 8 P.M., and lasted 
about an hour and a half, and the number of people 

vi THE LI MAS 423 

present was fourteen, seven male and seven female, 
which was the number stipulated by the Pawang. 

Another form of "propitiation" (buang-buangan 
limas] ceremony consists in loading a limas with 
the offerings. The limas is a receptacle of about 
a span (sa-jengkaf) in length, made of banana -leaf 
folded together at the ends and skewered with a bam- 
boo pin. Inside it are deposited the offerings, which 
consist of the following articles : a chupak (half 
cocoa-nutful) of " parched " rice, a set of three, five, 
or seven bananas, a "pinch" (sa-jempuf] of "saffron" 
rice, a pinch of " washed " rice, a native cigarette 
(rokoK), an egg, a wax taper, two "chews" of betel- 
leaf, and a betel-leaf twisted up into the shape of a 
spiral (pantat siput\ One (at least) of the two 
"chews" of betel must be specially prepared, as it is 
to be left behind for the spirits to chew, whilst the 
other is taken back into the presence of the sick 
man, where the medicine - man chews it and ejects 
the chewed leaf (di-sembor) upon the "small" of the 
sick man's back. In the case of the "chew" which 
is left behind for the spirits, the ordinary portion of 
betel -nut must be replaced by nutmeg, the gambier 
by mace, and the lime by "oil of Celebes" (minyak 

When the ceremony of loading the limas is 
complete, it is carried down to the nearest river 
or sea, and there set adrift with the following 
words : 

" Peace be with you, Khailir (Khizr), Prophet of God and Lord 

of water, 

Maduraya is the name of your sire, 
Madaruti the name of your mother, 
Si KSkas the name of their child ; 
Accept this present from your younger brother, Si Kelcas, 


Cause him no sickness or headache. 

Here is his, your younger brother's, present." 

Here the limas is set adrift, and the water underneath 
it scooped up and carried home, where it is used for 
bathing the sick man. 

Another very simple form of " propitiation " is 
called ambang - ambangan, and is performed as 
follows : 

Take seven "chews" of betel-leaf, seven native 
cigarettes (rokok), seven bananas, an egg, and an 
overflowing chupak (half cocoa-nutful) of parched 
rice (bertih sa-chupak abong), 1 roll them all up 
together in a banana leaf (which must be a cubit in 
length and of the same variety of banana as the first), 
and deposit them in a place where three roads meet 
(if anything "a little way along the left-hand road of 
the three,") and repeat this charm : 

" Jembalang Jembali, Demon of the Earth, 
Accept this portion as your payment 
And restore So-and-So. 
But if you do not restore him 
I shall curse you with the saying, 
' There is no god but God,' " etc. 

The above ceremony is generally used in the case 
of fever complaint. 

Counter - charms for "neutralising" the active 
principle of poisons form, as a rule, one of the most 
important branches of the pharmacopceic system 
among the less civilised Malay tribes. A settled 
form of government and the softening of manners 
due to contact with European civilisation has, how- 
ever, diminished the importance (I speak, of course, 

1 Abong =f\i\\ to overflowing ; cp. mfrabong^ etc. 


from the Malay point of view) of this branch of the 
subject in the Western Malay States of the Penin- 
sula, where poisoning cases are very rarely heard of. 
Malay women have always possessed the reputation 
of being especially proficient in the use of poison ; 
ground glass and the furry spicules obtained from 
the leaf-cases of some kinds of bamboo being their 
favourite weapons. 

This idea (of using a charm to " neutralise " the 
active principle of poison) has been extended by 
Malay medicine -men to cover all cases where any 
evil principle (even, for instance, a familiar spirit) is 
believed to have entered the sick person's system. 
All such charms are piously regarded by devout 
Muhammadans as gifts due to the mercy of God, 
who is believed to have sent them down to the 
Prophet Muhammad by the hand of his servant Gab- 
riel. This doctrine we find clearly stated in the 
charms themselves, e.g. (somewhat tautologically) : 

" Neutralising charms sprang from God, 
Neutralising charms were created by God, 
Neutralising charms were a boon from God, 
Who commanded Prince Gabriel 
To bring them unto Muhammad." 

The ceremony of applying such charms generally 
takes the form of grating a bezoar - stone * (batu 
guliga], mixing the result with water, and drinking 
it after repeating the charm. 

Thus in one of the charms quoted in the Appendix 
we read : 

" The Upas loses its venom, 
And Poison loses its venom, 
And the Sea-Snake loses its venom, 

1 As to these stones, vide p. 274, supra. 


And the poison-tree of Borneo loses its venom, 

Everything that is venomous loses its venom, 

By virtue of my use of the Prayer of the Magic Bezoar- Stone." 

Of the sea-snake (ular gerang] I was told that it 
was about two cubits in length, and that it was the most 
poisonous snake in existence ; "In fact," my informant 
declared, "if your little finger is bitten by it you must 
cut off the finger ; if your oar-blade is bitten by it 
you must throw away the oar." 1 And again of the 
Ipoh, or " upas " (which is one of the chief ingredients 
in the blow-gun poison used by the wild tribes), I was 
told that if a man who was "struck" by it was sup- 
ported by another his supporter would die, and that 
so far from its virulence becoming then exhausted, it 
would even kill a person who was seven times re- 
moved, in point of contact, from the person originally 
affected. 2 

The above charm terminates as follows : 

" Let this my prayer be sharp as steel, 
Swift as lightning, 
Fleet as the wind ! 
Grant this by virtue of my use of the prayer of Dato' Malim 


Who has become a saint through religious penance 
Performed at the headwaters of the river of Sairan in the interior 

of Egypt, 
By the grace of," etc. 

I may add that when you are collecting the 
materials for a neutralising ceremony (tawar) the 
following formula should be used : 

1 Kalau k?na kttingking, Krat-lah I believe, venomous. Vide Miscell. 

kc'lingking, kalau kena datin dayong, Papers relating to Indo - China, First 

di-chatok-nya, champak-lah dayong. Series, vol. ii. pp. 226-238. 

Numerous sea-snakes do, as a fact, 2 Ipoh ra'yat laut, kalati kttna sa- 

exist in the seas of the Malay Penin- orang di-sandarkan sa- orang, matt 

siila and Archipelago. They are all, sampei tujoh orang Mrsandar. 

vi BADI 427 

" Not mine are these materials, 
They are the materials of KSmal-ul-hakim ; l 
Not to me belongs this neutralising charm, 
To Malim Saidi belongs this neutralising charm. 
It is not I who apply it, 
It is Malim Karimun who applies it." 


The next class of medicinal ceremonies consists of 
rites intended to effect the expulsion from the patient's 
body of all kinds of evil influences or principles, such 
as may have entered into a man who has unguardedly 
touched a dead animal or bird from which the badi 
has not yet been expelled, or who has met with the 
Wild Huntsman in the forest.' 2 

Badi is the name given to the evil principle which, 
according to the view of Malay medicine-men, attends 
(like an evil angel) everything that has life. [It must 
not be forgotten when we find it used of inert objects, 
such as trees, and even of stones or minerals, that these 
too are animate objects from the Malay point of view.] 
Von de Wall describes it as "the enchanting or 
destroying influence which issues from anything, e.g. 
from a tiger which one sees, 8 from a poison-tree which 
one passes under, from the saliva of a mad dog, from 
an action which one has performed ; the contagious 
principle of morbid matter." 

Hence the ceremony which purports to drive out 
this evil principle is of no small importance in Malay 

1 Supposed to l>e identical with fascination which a tiger has for its 

Lukmanu-'l-hakim, a mysterious person prey. In Selangor this fascination is 

mentioned in the Koran. Vide Hughes, called g'run or pangs'" run i the case 

-Diet, of Islam, s.v. Luqman. of a tiger, and badi only in the case 

1 For the Wild Huntsman, vide of a snake the person affected by it 

Birds and Bird-charms, Chap. V. pp. being said to be kfna g'run or kfna 

1 13-120, supra. badi, as the case may be. 

3 Apparently v. d. W. means the 


medicine. I may take this opportunity of pointing out 
that I have used the word "mischief" to translate it 
when dealing with the charms, as this is the nearest 
English equivalent which I have been able to find ; 
indeed, it appears a very fairly exact equivalent when 
we remember its use in English in such phrases as 
" It's got the mischief in it," which is sometimes used 
even of inanimate objects. 

There are a hundred and ninety of these mischiefs, 
according to some, according to others, a hundred 
and ninety-three. Their origin is very variously given. 
One authority says that the first badi sprang from 
three drops of Adam's blood (which were spilt on 
the ground). Another (rather inconsistently) declares 
that the "mischief" (badi) residing in an iguana 
(biawak) was the origin of all subsequent "mischiefs," 
yet adds later that the " Heart of Timber" was their 
origin, and yet again that the yellow glow at sunset 
(called Mambang Kuning or the " Yellow Deity ") 
was their origin. These two latter are, perhaps the 
most usual theories, but a third medicine-man declares 
that the first badivras the offspring of the Jin ("genie") 
Ibn Ujan (Ibnu Jan?), who resides in the clouds (or 
caverns ?) and hollows of the hills. Thus do Malay 
medicine-men disagree. 

These "mischiefs" reside not only in animate, but 
also in inanimate objects. Thus in one of the ele- 
phant-charms given in the Appendix several different 
" mischiefs " are described as residing in earth, ant- 
hills, wood, water, stone, and elephants (or rhinoceroses) 
respectively. Again, in a deer-charm, various " mis- 
chiefs " are requested to return to their place of origin, 
i.e. to the Iguana (strictly speaking, the Monitor 
Lizard), Heart of Timber, and the Yellow Glow of 


Sunset. Yet another deer-charm calls upon " Badi " 
(as the offspring of the Jin Ibn Ujan, who resides in 
the clouds and hollows of the hills), to return thereto. 1 

I will now proceed to describe the ceremony of 
" casting out " these " mischiefs." 

The chief occasions on which this casting out takes 
place are, first, when somebody is ill, and his sickness 
is attributed to his accidental contact with (and conse- 
quent " possession by ") one of these mischiefs ; and, 
secondly, when any wild animal or bird is killed. 
The ceremony of casting out the mischief from the 
carcases of big game will be found described under 
the heading of " Hunting Ceremonies." I shall here 
confine myself to a brief description of the ceremony 
as conducted for the benefit of sick persons. 

First make up a bunch of leaves (sa-ckerek), con- 
sisting of the shrubs called pulut-pulut and selaguri, 
with branches of the gandarusa and lenjuang merah 
(red dracaena), all of which are wrapped together in a 
leaf of the si-pulih, and tied round with a piece of 
tree -bark (kulit trap), or the akar gasing-gasing. 
With this leaf-brush you are to cast out the mischief. 
Then you grate on to a saucer small pieces of ebony 
wood, brazil wood, " laka" wood, sandal wood, and 
eagle-wood (lignaloes), mix them with water, putting 
in a few small pieces of scrap-iron, and rub the 
patient all over with the mixture. 

1 Vide App. lx., Ixxii., Ixxix. The " Sang Marak, Sang Badi" (v. App. 

different names under which "Badi" Ixxix.), and "//iwfa/awf Badi"(v. App. 

is invoked are worth noting ; e.g. Ixxx. ). I may remark that Sabaliyu is 

"Badiyu, Mak Badi, Badi Panji, Mak given by Logan in the_/. /. A. vol. i. 

Buta," in an elephant-charm (App. p. 263, as meaning a deer in the Cam- 

"lx.); and again " Ah Badi, Mak phor Language (bhasa kapor or pantang 

Badi" in a deer-charm (v. App. Ixxii.), kapor) of Johor, and this word was after - 

and in a later deer-charm, " Hei Badi wards confirmed by Mr. D. F. A. 

Serang, Badi Mak Buta, Si Panckur, Hervey. 
Mak Tuli" (v. App. Ixxix.), and again 


As you do this, repeat the appropriate charm ; 
then take the brush of leaves and stroke the patient 
all over downwards from head to foot, saying : 

" Peace be with you, Prophet Noah, to whom belong the trees, 
And Prophet Elias who planted them. 
I crave as a boon the leaves of these shrubs 
To be a drug and a neutralising (power) 
Within the body, frame, and person of So-and-So. 
If you (addressing the leaves) refuse to enter (the body of So- 

You shall be cursed with my ( curse of the nine countries,' 
By (the power of) the word 'There is no god but God,' " etc. 

Whilst reciting the above, stand upright, close to the 
patient's head, grasping a spear in your left hand. 
Brandish this spear over the body of the patient, 
drawing a long breath. 1 

This spear must afterwards be ransomed, (say) for 
forty cents ; in default of which payment it is forfeited 
to the medicine-man. 

The directions for another form of the ceremony 
just described ("casting out the mischief"), are as 
follows : 

Whenever a person is suffering from the influence 
of a waxen image (such as is described elsewhere), 2 

1 Influence of the Breath in Healing. Western magnetists and mesmerists. 

In Notes and Queries, No. I, p. 24, The miraculous cures of the Messiah 

a Malay bomor, or doctor, is described were, according to Moslems, mostly 

as blowing upon something to be used performed by aspiration. They hold 

as medicine. Breathing upon sick per- that in the days of Isa, physic had 

sons and upon food, water, medicines, reached its highest development, and 

etc., to be administered to them is that his miracles were mostly miracles 

a common ceremony among Malay of medicine ; whereas in Mohammed's 

doctors and midwives. The following time eloquence had attained its climax, 

note would seem to show that the and, accordingly, his miracles were those 

Malays have learnt it from their Mu- of eloquence, as shown in the Koran 

hammadan teachers : and Ahadis." The Book of the Thou- 

"Healing by the breath [Arab. sand Nights and a Night, Burton, vol. 

Nafahal, breathings, benefits, the Heb. v.p. 30. NotesandQueries,y.^?.^4.6"., 

Neshamah, opp. to Nephest (soul), and S.B., No. 4, sec. 92, issued with 

Ruach (spirit)] is a popular idea through- No. 1 7. 
out the East, and not unknown to 2 Vide pp. 569-574, infra. 


you must rub him (or her) all over with limes in order 
to " cast out the mischief." These limes must be of 
seven different kinds, and you will require three of 
each kind. When you have got them, fumigate them 
with incense and repeat the appropriate charm, which 
is practically an appeal addressed to the spirit of the 
limes to assist in extracting the poisonous principle 
from the body of the sick man : 

" Peace be with you, O Lelang, 

We have been brothers from the former time until now, 
I am fain to order you to assist me in extracting everything that 

is poisonous 

From the body and limbs of So-and-So. 
Break not your solemn promise, 
Break not your plighted faith, 
And use not deceit or wiles," etc. 

Of course the luckless spirit is told that if he does 
not do exactly as he is bidden he must expect the curse 
to follow. 

This charm must be repeated overnight, and early 
next morning three thicknesses of birah leaves must 
be laid down (for the patient to stand upon during the 
lustration). The seven sorts of limes are at the same 
time to be squeezed into a bowl and divided into three 
portions. These portions are to be used three times 
during the day, at sunrise, noon, and sundown respec- 
tively, partly for washing off the cosmetics (which are 
rubbed all over the body), and partly as a medicinal 
draught or potion. 

In the morning the cosmetic must be white (bedak 
puteh lulut\ at noon it must be red (bedak merak), and 
. at sundown black (bedak hitain). The " trash " of the 
limes (after squeezing) is wrapped up in a birak 
leaf at evening, and either carried out to the sea (into 
which it is dropped), or deposited ashore at a safe 


distance from the house. The only special taboo 
mentioned for this ceremony is that the patient must 
not during its continuance meet anybody who has come 
from a distance. 

Another very curious form of this ceremony of 
" casting out devils " was described to me by a Kelan- 
tan Malay. It is worked on the substitute or "scape- 
goat" principle (tukar gantt), and the idea is to make 
little dough images of all kinds of birds, beasts, fishes, 
and even inanimate objects (a few of the former being 
fowls, ducks, horses, apes, buffaloes, bullocks, wild 
cattle (seladang), deer, mouse-deer, and elephants, 
besides those enumerated in the charm itself, whilst 
exceptions are to be the " unlucky " animals (benatang 
sial) such as cats, tigers, pigs, dogs, snakes, and iguanas). 
When made they are to be deposited together in a 
heap upon a sacrificial tray (anckak], together with 
betel-leaves, cigarettes, and tapers. One of the tapers 
is made to stand upon a silver dollar, with the end of 
a piece of particoloured thread inserted between the 
dollar and the foot of the taper ; and the other end of 
this thread is given to the patient to hold whilst the 
necessary charm is being repeated. 

Part of this charm is worth quoting, as it helps to 
explain the line of thought on which the medicine- 
man is working : 

" I have made a substitute for you, 
And engage you for hire. 

As for your wish to eat, I give you food, 

As for your wish to drink, I give you drink. 

Lo, I give you good measure whether of sharks, 

Skates, lobsters, crabs, shell-fish (both of land and sea) 

Every kind of substitute I give you, 

Good measure whether of flesh or of blood, both cooked and raw. 

Accept, accept duly this banquet of mine. 


It was good at the first : if it is not good now, 
It is not I who give it." 

The explanation of this part of the ceremony is 
that the evil spirit, or "mischief," is supposed to leave 
the body of the sick man, and to proceed (guided, of 
course, by the many-coloured thread which the patient 
holds in his hand) to enter into the choice collection of 
" scapegoats " lying in the tray. As soon as his devil- 
ship is got fairly into the tray, the medicirie-man looses 
three slip-knots (lepas-lefias), and repeats a charm to 
induce the evil spirit to go, and throws away the untied 
knots outside the house. 

The original " disease-boat " used in Selangor was 
a model of a special kind of Malay vessel called lan- 
chang. This lanchang was a two-masted vessel with 
galleries (dandan) fore and aft, armed with cannon, 
and used by Malay Rajas on the Sumatran coast. 
This latter fact was, no doubt, one reason for its being 
selected as the type of boat most likely to prove accept- 
able to the spirits. To make it still further acceptable, 
however, the model was not unfrequently stained with 
turmeric or saffron, yellow being recognised as the 
royal colour among the Malays. 

Occasionally, on the other hand, a mere raft (rakit) 
is set adrift, sometimes a small model of the balei 
(state-chamber), and sometimes only a set of the 
banana-leaf receptacles called limas. 

The vessel in the case of an important person is 
occasionally of great size and excellent finish indeed, 
local tradition has it that an exceptionally large and 
perfect specimen (which was launched upon the Klang 
river in Selangor some years ago, on the occasion of 
an illness of the Tungku "Chik, eldest daughter of the 
late Sultan), was actually towed down to sea by the 

2 F 


Government steam launch 'Abdul Samad. When all 
is ready the lanchang is loaded with offerings, which 
are of an exactly similar character to those which are 
deposited on the sacrificial tray or anchak^ already 
described. Then one end of a piece of yellow thread 
is fastened to the patient's wrist (the other end being 
presumably made fast to the spirit-boat, or lanchang] ; 
incense is burnt and a charm recited, the purport of 
it being to persuade the evil spirits which have taken 
possession of the patient to enter on board the vessel. 
This, when they are thought to have done so, is 
then 2 taken down to the sea or river and set adrift, 
invariably at the ebb tide, which is supposed to carry 
the boat (and the spirits with it) "to another country." 
One of the charms used at this stage of the ceremony 
even mentions the name of the country to which the 
devils are to be carried, the place singled out for 
this distinction being the Island of Celebes! The 
passage in question runs as follows : 

" Peace be unto you, Devils of the sea, and Demons of the sea, 
Neither on cape, nor bay, nor sandbank be ye stuck or stranded ! 
This vessel (lanchang) is that of Arong, 3 

1 Vide pp. 418 seqq., supra. and repeats the charm. A small 
Strictly speaking, money (which portion of each dish deposited in the 

is called batu-batu lanchang or lanchang lanchang has to be carried back to the 

stones) should always form part of them. patient's house, and there administered 

In Kedah three kendgri (one ktnderi to the patient, together with water 

amounting to three cents) are said to scooped up in a bowl from underneath 

be used ; in Perak three -wang, and in the lanchang as it lay in the water be- 

Selangor three duits (cents). fore drifting away. As the sick man 

2 I believe this usually takes place receives the offerings, the person who 
immediately after the ceremony, but administers them says, addressing the 
one medicine-man whom I knew ('Che spirit of evil, " Here is your wage, 
Amal of Jugra) used to keep the boat return not back here unto So-and-So ; 
into which the spirits were thought to and cause him to be sick no more," and 
have entered until the patient recovered, the spirit replies through the man's 
and then set it adrift. When the mouth, " I will never return." 
medicine-man is launching it, he takes 3 Arong also means " to cross the 
the boat in both hands, and repeatedly water," and there may be some doubt 
gives it a rotatory movement towards as to the precise meaning of this line, 
the left (as if he were using a sieve), See the original in App. cciv. 


Do you assist in guarding this offering from his grandchildren, 

And vex not this vessel. 

I request you to escort it to the land of Celebes, 

To its own place. 

By the grace of," etc. 

This same charm is used -mutatis mutandis for the 
Balei (Spirit-hall). 

A common form of the "Lanchang" charm runs 
as follows : 

" Ho, elders of the upper reaches, 
Elders of the lower reaches, 
Elders of the dry land, 
Elders of the river-flats, 

Assemble ye, O people, Lords of hill and hill-foot, 
Lords of cavern and hill-locked basin, 
Lords of the deep primeval forest, 
Lords of the river-bends, 

Come on board this Lanchang, assembling in your multitudes, 
So may ye depart with the ebbing stream, 
Depart on the passing breeze, 
Depart in the yawning earth, 
Depart in the red-dyed earth. 
Go ye to the ocean which has no wave, 
And the plain where no green herb grows, 
And never return hither. 
But if ye return hither, 
Ye shall be consumed by the curse. 
At sea ye shall get no drink, 
Ashore ye shall get no food, 
But gape (in vain) about the world. 
By the grace of," etc. 

Sometimes the crocodile-spirit is requested to act 
as the forwarding agent in the transaction ; thus we 
find a short lanckang-c\\2irm running as follows : 

" Ho, Elder of the Sloping Bank, Jambu Agai, 1 
Receive this (lanchang) and forward it to the River-Bay, 
It is So-and-So who presents it 
Sa-rkong is the name of the (spirit of the) Bay, 

1 i.e. the Crocodile-spirit (vide pp. 286 (note), 298, supra.) 


Sa-reking the name of the (spirit of the) Cape, 
Si 'Abas, their child, is the rocky islet ; 

I ask (you) to forward this present at once to the God of Mid- 

A somewhat longer charm, which is given in the 
Appendix, commences by making an interesting 

" Peace be with you ! O crew newly come from your shipwrecked 

barque on the high seas, 

Spurned by the billows, blown about by the gale ; 
Come on board (this lanchang) in turn and get you food." 

The speaker goes on to say that he recognises their 
right to levy toll all over the country, and has made 
this lanchang for them as a substitute (tukar ganti}, 
implying, no doubt, in place of the one which they 
had lost. In any case, however, there can be little 
doubt that the " barque wrecked on the high seas " is 
the wasted body of the sick man, of which the spirits 
were so recently in possession, and in substitution for 
which they are offered the spirit-boat in question. 

Tiger Spirit 

I shall now proceed to describe the ceremony of 
invoking the Tiger Spirit for the purpose of obtaining 
his assistance in expelling a rival spirit of less power. 

In the autumn of 1896 (in the Kuala Langat District 
of Selangor) the brother of my Malay collector 'Umar 
happening to fall ill of some slight ailment, I asked 
and obtained permission to be present at the ceremony 
of doctoring the patient. The time fixed for the 
commencement of the ceremony (which is usually 
repeated for three consecutive nights) was seven 
o'clock on the following evening. On reaching the 


house at the time appointed I was met by 'Umar, 
and ascending the house -ladder, was invited to seat 
myself upon a mat about two yards from the spot 
where the medicine-man was expected to take up his 
position. Having done so, and looking round, I 
found that there were in all nine persons present 
(including myself, but exclusive of the Pawang, his 
wife, or the patient), and I was informed that although 
it is not necessary for the same persons to be present 
on each of the three nights, the greatest care must 
be taken to see that the number of persons present, 
which should never, in strictness, be an even number, 
does not vary from night to night, because to allow 
any such variation would be to court disaster. Hence 
I myself was only enabled to be present as a substi- 
tute for one of the sick man's relatives who had been 
there on the preceding night. 1 

The accompanying diagram shows (approximately) 
the relative positions of all who were present. In one 
corner of the room was the patient's bed (sleeping- 
mat) and mosquito curtain with a patchwork front, 
and in a line parallel to the bed stood the three jars 
of water, each decorated with the sort of fringe or 
collar of plaited cocoa-nut fronds called "centipedes' 
feet" (jari ' lipan], and each, too, furnished with a 
fresh yam-leaf covering to its mouth. A little nearer 
to me than the three water-jars, but in the same line, 
stood a fairly big jar similarly decorated, but filled 
with a big bouquet of artificial "flowers" and orna- 

1 In this connection it may be added with cocoa-nut leaves hung on it. is 

that there are sundry medical "taboos" often drawn across the path as an in- 

in use on various occasions : e.g. it is dication of such prohibition. The fine 

sometimes forbidden to enter the house for breaking such a taboo (langgar 

where the sick man lies or to approach gawar-gawar) was " half a bhara," or 

it by a particular path, and a string, in the case of a Raja "two bharas." 




ments instead of the water. These flowers were 
skilfully manufactured from plaited strips of palm- 
leaf, and in addition to mere " flowers " represented 
such objects as rings, cocoa-nuts, centipedes, doves, and 
the like, all of which were made of the plaited fronds 
referred to. This invention was intended (I was 

^Medicine-man's wife 
J^fwith tambourine) 


^A woman of 
j^the household | 

Sleeping -mat 

fp"**' Medicine-man \ 
r*fc> A / !- 
5 ^ ^vVy^ ^^ j 

r j i/or with artificial J 

& curtain of 
the Patient 



Self ~ 


/Pest o/ company 

FIG. 2. Ceremony of invoking the tiger spirit. 

informed) to represent a pleasure - garden (toman 
bunga), and indeed was so called; it was (I believe) 
intended to attract the spirit whom it was the object 
of the ceremony to invoke. In front of the three 
jars stood, as a matter of course, a censer filled with 
burning embers, and a box containing the usual 
accessories for the chewing of betel. Everything 
being now ready, the medicine- man appeared and 
took his seat beside the censer, his wife, an aged 


woman, whose office was to chant the invocation, to 
her own accompaniment, taking her seat at the same 
time near the head of the patient's sleeping - mat. 
Presently she struck up the invocation (lagu pemang- 
gil), and we listened in rapt attention as the voice, 
at first weak and feeble with age, gathered strength 
and wailed ever higher and shriller up to the climax 
at the end of the chant. At the time it was hard 
to distinguish the words, but I learnt from her after- 
wards that this was what she sang : 

" Peace be unto you, Penglima Lenggang Laut ! 

Of no ordinary beauty 

Is the Vessel of Pnglima Lenggang Laut ! 

The Vessel that is called ' The Yellow Spirit-boat,' 

The Vessel that is overlaid with vermilion and ivory, 

The Vessel that is gilded all over ; 

Whose Mast is named ' Prince MSndela,' 

Whose Shrouds are named 'The Shrouds that are silvered,' 

Whose Oars are named ' The Feet of the Centipede ' 

(And whose Oarsmen are twice seven in number). 

Whose Side is named ' Civet-cat Fencing,' 

Whose Rudder is named 'The Pendulous Bees'-nest,' 

Whose Galleries are named ' Struggling Pythons,' 

Whose Pennon flaps against the deckhouse, 

Whose Streamers sport in the wind, 

And whose Standard waves so bravely. 

Come hither, good sir ; come hither, my master, 

It is just the right moment to veer your vessel. 

Master of the Anchor, heave up the anchor ; 

Master of the Foretop, spread the sails ; 

Master of the Helm, turn the helm ; 

Oarsmen, bend your oars ; 

Whither is our vessel yawing to ? 

The vessel whose starting-place is the Navel of the Seas, 

And that yaws towards the Sea where the ' Pauh Janggi ' grows, 

Sporting among the surge and breakers, 

Sporting among the surge and following the wave-ridges. 

It were well to hasten, O Penglima Lenggang Laut, 
' Be not careless or slothful, 

Linger not by inlet or river-reach, 

Dally not with mistress or courtesan, 

But descend and enter into your embodiment." 


A number of rhymed stanzas follow which will be 
found in the Appendix. 

Meanwhile the medicine-man was not backward 
in his preparations for the proper reception of the 
spirit. First he scattered incense on the embers and 
fumigated himself therewith, "shampooing" himself, 
so to speak, with his hands, and literally bathing 
in the cloud of incense which volumed up from the 
newly-replenished censer and hung like a dense gray 
mist over his head. Next he inhaled the incense 
through his nostrils, and announced in the accents 
of what is called the spirit- language (bhasa hantu} 
that he was going to "lie down." This he accord- 
ingly did, reclining upon his back, and drawing the 
upper end of his long plaid sarong over his head 
so as to completely conceal his features. The invo- 
cation was not yet ended, and for some time we sat 
in the silence of expectation. At length, however, 
the moment of possession arrived, and with a violent 
convulsive movement, which was startling in its 
suddenness, the " Pawang " rolled over on to his 
face. Again a brief interval ensued, and a second 
but somewhat less violent spasm shook his frame, 
the spasm being strangely followed by a dry and 
ghostly cough. A moment later and the Pawang, 
still with shrouded head, was seated bolt upright 
facing the tambourine player. Then he fronted round, 
still in a sitting posture, until he faced the jars, and 
removed the yam -leaf covering from the mouth of 
each jar in turn. 

Next he kindled a wax taper at the flame of a lamp 
placed for the purpose just behind the jars, and planted 
it firmly on the brim of the first jar by spilling a 
little wax upon the spot where it was to stand. Two 


similar tapers having been kindled and planted upon 
the brims of the second and third jars, he then 
partook of a " chew " of betel-leaf (which was presented 
to him by one of the women present), crooning the 
while to himself. 

This refreshment concluded, he drew from his 
girdle a bezoar or talismanic stone (batu penawar\ and 
proceeded to rub it all over the patient's neck and 
shoulders. Then, facing about, he put on a new white 
jacket and head-cloth which had been placed beside 
him for his use, and girding his plaid (sarong] about 
his waist, drew from its sheath a richly-wrought dagger 
(Kris) which he fumigated in the smoke of the censer 
and returned to its scabbard. 

He next took three silver 2o-cent pieces of 
"Straits" coinage, to serve as batu buyong, or "jar- 
stones," and after "charming" them dropped each of the 
three in turn into one of the water-jars, and " inspected " 
them intently as they lay at the bottom of the water, 
shading, at the same time, his eyes with his hand from 
the light of the tapers. He now charmed several 
handfuls of rice ("parched," "washed," and "saffron" 
rice), and after a further inspection declared, in shrill, 
unearthly accents, that each of the coins was lying 
exactly under its own respective taper, and that there- 
fore his "child" (the sick man) was very dangerously 
ill, though he might yet possibly recover with the aid 
of the spirit. Next, scattering the rice round the row 
of jars (the track of the rice thus forming an ellipse), 
he broke off several small blossom -stalks from a sheaf 
of areca-palm blossom, and making them up with 
sprays of champaka into three separate bouquets, 
placed one of these improvised nosegays in each of the 
three jars of water. On the floor at the back of the 


row of jars he next deposited a piece of white cloth, 
five cubits in length, which he had just previously 
fumigated. Again drawing the dagger already re- 
ferred to, the Pawang now successively plunged it up 
to the hilt into each of the three bouquets (in which 
hostile spirits might, I was told, possibly be lurking). 
Then seizing an unopened blossom-spathe of the areca- 
palm, he anointed the latter all over with "oil of 
Celebes," extracted the sheaf of palm-blossom from its 
casing, fumigated it, and laid it gently across the 
patient's breast. Rapidly working himself up into a 
state of intense excitement, and with gestures of the 
utmost vehemence, he now proceeded to "stroke" the 
patient with the sheaf of blossom rapidly downwards, 
in the direction of the feet, on reaching which he beat 
out the blossom against the floor. Then turning the 
patient over on to his face, and repeating the stroking 
process, he again beat out the blossom, and then sank 
back exhausted upon the floor, where he lay face 
downwards, with his head once more enveloped in the 
folds of the sarong. 

A long interval now ensued, but at length, after 
many convulsive twitchings, the shrouded figure arose, 
amid the intense excitement of the entire company, 
and went upon its hands and feet. The Tiger Spirit 
had taken possession of the Pawang's body, and 
presently a low, but startlingly life-like growl the 
unmistakable growl of the dreaded " Lord of the 
Forest " seemed to issue from somewhere under our 
feet, as the weird shrouded figure began scratching 
furiously at the mat upon which it had been quietly 
lying, and then, with occasional pauses for the emission 
of the growls, which had previously startled us, and the 
performance of wonderful cat-like leaps, rapidly licked 


up the handfuls of rice which had been thrown upon 
the floor in front of it. This part of the performance 
lasted, however, but a few minutes, and then the 
evident excitement of the onlookers was raised to 
fever pitch, as the bizarre, and, as it seemed to our 
fascinated senses, strangely brute-like form stooped 
suddenly forward, and slowly licked over, as a tigress 
would lick its cub, the all but naked body of the 
patient a performance (to a European) of so power- 
fully nauseating a character that it can hardly be 
conceived that any human being could persist in it 
unless he was more or less unconscious of his actions. 
At all events, after his complete return to consciousness 
at the conclusion of the ceremony, even the Pawang 
experienced a severe attack of nausea, such as might 
well be supposed to be the result of his performance. 
Meanwhile, however, the ceremony continued. Revert- 
ing to a sitting posture (though still with shrouded 
head), the Pawang now leaned forward over the 
patient, and with the point of his dagger drew blood 
from his own arm ; then rising to his feet he engaged 
in a fierce hand-to-hand combat with his invisible foe 
(the spirit whom he had been summoned to exorcise). 
At first his weapon was the dagger, but before long he 
discarded this, and laid about him stoutly enough with 
the sheaf of areca-palm blossom. 

Presently, however, he quieted down somewhat, 
and commenced to "stroke" the sick man (as before) 
with the sheaf of palm - blossom, beating out the 
blossom upon the floor as usual at the end of the 
operation. Then sitting down again and crooning to 
himself, he partook of betel-leaf, faced round towards 
the patient and stooped over him, muttering as he did 
so, and passing his hands all over the prostrate form. 


Next he turned once more to the jars and again 
plunged his dagger into each of them in turn (to make 
sure that the evil spirit was not lurking in them), and 
then drawing his -head-cloth over his head so as to 
completely hide his face, he once more took his seat 
beside the patient, stooping over him from time to 
time and crooning charms as he did so. 

Finally he clapped his hands, removed his head- 
cloth, " stroked " the patient over and flicked him with 
the corners of it, and then shrouding himself once 
more in the sarong, lay down at full length in a state 
of complete exhaustion. A pause of about ten minutes' 
duration now followed, and then with sundry convulsive 
twitchings the Pawang returned to consciousness and 
sat up, and the ceremony was over. 

The following description of a ceremony similar to 
the one just described is taken from Malay Sketches : 

" The ber-hantu is, of course, a survival of prse- 
Islam darkness, and the priests abominate it, or say 
they do ; but they have to be a little careful, because 
the highest society affects the practice of the Black 

" To return to the king's house. In the middle of 
the floor was spread a puddal, a small narrow mat, at 
one end of which was seated a middle-aged woman 
dressed like a man in a short-sleeved jacket, trousers, 
a sarong, and a scarf fastened tightly round her waist. 
At the other end of the mat was a large newly-lighted 
candle in a candlestick. Between the woman and the 
taper were two or three small vessels containing rice 
coloured with turmeric, parched padi, and perfumed 
water. An attendant sat near at hand. 

" The woman in male attire was the Pawang, the 
Raiser of Spirits, the Witch, not of Endor, but of as 


great repute in her own country and among her own 
people. In ordinary life she was an amusing lady 
named Raja Ngah, a scion of the reigning house on 
the female side, and a member of a family skilled in all 
matters pertaining to occultism. In a corner of the 
room were five or six girls holding native drums, 
instruments with a skin stretched over one side 
only, and this is beaten usually with the fingers. The 
leader of this orchestra was the daughter of Raja 

" Shortly after I sat down, the proceedings began 
by the Pdwang covering her head and face with a 
silken cloth, while the orchestra began to sing a weird 
melody in an unknown tongue. I was told it was the 
spirit language ; the air was one specially pleasing to 
a particular Jin, or Spirit, and the invocation, after 
reciting his praises, besought him to come from the 
mountains or the sea, from underground or overhead, 
and relieve the torments of the King. 

" As the song continued, accompanied by the 
rhythmical beating of the drums, the Pdwang sat with 
shrouded head in front of the lighted taper, holding in 
her right hand against her left breast a small sheaf of 
the grass called daun sambau, tied tightly together and 
cut square at top and bottom. 

''This chddak she shook, together with her whole 
body, by a stiffening of the muscles, while all eyes were 
fixed upon the taper. 

" At first the flame was steady, but by and by, as 
the singers screamed more loudly to attract the atten- 
tion of the laggard Spirit, the wick began to quiver 
and flare up, and it was manifest to the initiated that 
they/'w was introducing himself into the candle. By 
some means the Pdwang, who was now supposed to 


be ' possessed ' and no longer conscious of her actions, 
became aware of this, and she made obeisance to the 
taper, sprinkling the floor round it with saffron-coloured 
rice and perfumed water ; then, rising to her feet and 
followed by the attendant, she performed the same 
ceremony before each male member of the reigning 
family present in the room, murmuring all the while a 
string of gibberish addressed to the Spirit. This done, 
she resumed her seat on the mat, and, after a brief 
pause, the minstrels struck up a different air, and, 
singing the praises of another Jin, called upon him to 
come and relieve the King's distress. 

" I ascertained that each Malay State has its own 
special Spirits, each district is equally well provided, 
and there are even some to spare for special individuals, 
In this particular State there are four principal Jin; 
they are the Jin ka-rdja-an, the State Spirit also 
called Junjong dunia uddra, Supporter of the Firma- 
ment ; Mdia uddra, the Spirit of the Air ; Mahkota 
si-rdja Jin, the Crown of Royal Spirits ; and Stan 

"These four are known as Jin druah, Exalted Spirits, 
and they are the guardians of the Sultan and the State. 
As one star exceeds another in glory, so one Jin sur- 
passes another in renown, and I have named them in 
the order of their greatness. In their honour four 
white and crimson umbrellas were hung in the room, 
presumably for their use when they arrived from their 
distant homes. Only the Sultan of the State is en- 
titled to traffic with these distinguished Spirits ; when 
summoned they decline to move unless appealed to 
with their own special invocations, set to their own 
peculiar music, sung by at least four singers, and led 
by a Beduan (singer) of the royal family. 


ka-rdja-an is entitled to have the royal drums played 
by the State drummers if his presence is required, but 
the other three have to be satisfied with the instru- 
ments I have described. 

" There are common devils who look after com- 
mon people ; such as Hantu Songkei, Hantu Maldyu, 
and Hantu Bltan; the last the 'Tiger Devil,' but 
out of politeness he is called ' Bllan,' to save his 

" Then there is Kemdla ajaib, the 'Wonderful Jewel,' 
Israng, Raja Ngah's special familiar, and a host of 
others. Most hantu have their own special Pdwangs, 
and several of these were carrying on similar proceed- 
ings in adjoining buildings, in order that the sick 
monarch might reap all the benefits to be derived from 
a consultation of experts, and as one spirit after another 
notified his advent by the upstarting flame of the taper, 
it was impossible not to feel that one was getting into 
the very best society. 

" Meanwhile a sixteen-sided stand, about six inches 
high and shaped like this diagram, had been placed on 
the floor near the Pdwangs mat. 
The stand was decorated with yellow 
cloth ; in its centre stood an enor- 
mous candle, while round it were 
gaily -decorated rice and toothsome 
delicacies specially prized by Jin. 
There was just room to sit on this 

j 1_ 1_ 1 1 J T>v, + vocation of spirits. 

stand, which is called Petrana 
panchalogam (meaning a seat of this particular 
shape), and the Sultan, supported by many attend- 
ants, was brought out and sat upon it. A veil was 
placed on his head, the various vessels were put 
in his hands, he spread the rice round the taper, 


sprinkled the perfume, and having received into his 
hand an enormous chddak of grass, calmly awaited the 
coming of the Jin Ka-rdja-an, while the minstrels 
shouted for him with all their might. 

" The Sultan sat there for some time, occasionally 
giving a convulsive shudder, and when this taper 
had duly flared up, and all the rites had been per- 
formed, His Highness was conducted back again to 
his couch, and the Pdwang continued her ministrations 

" Whilst striding across the floor she suddenly fell 
down as though shot, and it was explained to me that 
Israng, the spirit by whom she was possessed, had 
seen a dish-cover, and that the sight always frightened 
him to such an extent that his Pdwang fell down. 
The cause of offence was removed, and the perform- 
ance continued. 

" There are other spirits who cannot bear the bark- 
ing of a dog, the mewing of a cat, and so on. 

" Just before dawn there was a sudden confusion 
within the curtains which hid the Sultan's couch ; they 
were thrown aside, and there lay the King, to all 
appearance in a swoon. The Jin Ka-rdja-an had 
taken possession of the sick body, and the mind was 
no longer under its owner's control. 

" For a little while there was great excitement, and 
then the King recovered consciousness, was carried to 
a side verandah, and a quantity of cold water poured 
over him. 

"So ended the stance. 

" Shortly after, the Sultan, clothed and in his right 
mind, sent to say he would like to speak to me. He 
told me he took part in this ceremony to please his 
people, and because it was a very old custom, and he 


added, ' I did not know you were there till just now ; 
I could not see you because I was not myself and 
did not know what I was doing.' 

" The King did not die, after all on the contrary, I 
was sent for twice again because he was not expected 
to live till the morning, and yet he cheated Death for 
a time." 1 

The ceremony called Mengalin, or the " sucking 
charm " ceremony, is one which is very curious, and 
deserves to be described in some detail. 

First of all you perform the ceremony called " Driv- 
ing out the Mischief" (buang badi} from the sick 
man (vide supra] in order to drive away all evil spirits 
(menolak sakalian chengkedi atau hantu). Then wrap 
the patient up in a white or black cloth, and taking a 
ball of (kneaded) dough (tepong pengalin), eggs and 
saffron, repeat the suitable charm, and roll it all over 
the skin of the patient's body in order to draw out 
all poisonous influences (menchabut sagala bisa-bisa). 
Then if you find inside the ball of dough after opening 
it an infinitesimally small splinter of bone, or a few 
red hairs, you will know that these belong to the evil 
spirit who has been plaguing the patient. The charm 
to be used when rolling the ball of dough over the skin 
runs as follows : 

" Peace be unto you, O Shadowy Venom ! 
Venom be at ease no longer ! 
Venom find shelter no longer ! 
Venom take your ease no longer ! 

May you be blown upon, O Venom, by the passing breeze ! 
May you be blown upon, O Venom, by the yellow sunset-glow, 
May the Pounce of this Lanthorn's lightning kill you ; 
May the Pounce of this Twilight's lanthorn kill you, 

1 Swettenham, Malay Sketches, pp. ceremony will be found in J.K.A.S. 
I 53- I 59- Another excellent account, S.B., No. 12, pp. 222-232. 
also by an eye-witness, of a similar 

2 G 


May the Shaft of the Thunderbolt kill you ; 

May the Fall of the heavy Rains kill you, 

May the Inundation of Flood-waters kill you ; 

May you be towed till you are swamped by this my head-cloth, 

May you be drowned in the swell of this my dough-boat. 

By the grace of," etc. 

A second charm of great length follows, the object 
of which is to drive out the evil spirit in possession of 
the man. 

An example of this form of cure as practised by 
Malay medicine -men is referred to by Mr. Clifford, 
who, in speaking of his punkah-puller, Umat, says : 

"It was soon after his marriage that his trouble fell 
upon Umat, and swept much of the sunshine from his 
life. He contracted a form of ophthalmia, and for a 
time was blind. Native Medicine Men doctored him, 
and drew sheaves of needles and bunches of thorns from 
his eyes, which they declared were the cause of his 
affliction. These miscellaneous odds and ends used to 
be brought to me at breakfast-time, floating, most un- 
appetisingly, in a shallow cup half-full of water ; and 
Umat went abroad with eye-sockets stained crimson or 
black, according to the fancy of the native physician. 
The aid of an English doctor was called in, but Umat 
was too thoroughly a Malay to trust the more simple 
remedies prescribed to him, and though his blindness 
was relieved, and he became able to walk without the 
aid of a staff, his eyesight could never really be given 
back to him." l 

In the above connection I may remark that, whether 
from the working of their own imaginations or other- 
wise, those who were believed to be possessed by 
demons certainly suffered, and that severely. H.H. 
Raja Kahar, the son of H.H. the late Sultan of 

1 Studies in Brown Humanity, p. 46. 


Selangor, was attacked by a familiar demon during my 
residence in the Langat District, and shortly after- 
wards commenced to pine away. He declared that 
the offending demon was sitting in his skull, at the 
back of his head, and that it dragged up and devoured 
everything that he swallowed. Hence he refused at 
length to eat any sort of solid food, and gradually 
wasted away until he became a mere skeleton, and 
went about imploring people to take a hatchet and 
split his skull open, in order to extract the demon 
which he believed it to contain. Gradually his strength 
failed, and at length I learned from H.H. the Sultan 
(then Raja Muda) that all the Malays in the neigh- 
bourhood had assembled to wail at his decease. As 
we strolled among the cocoa-nut palms and talked, I 
told him of the many miraculous cures which had 
attended cases of faith-healing in England, and sug- 
gested, not of course expecting to be taken seriously, 
that he should try the effect of such a cure upon his 
uncle, and "make believe" to extract some "man- 
tises" from the back of his head. To my intense 
astonishment some days later, I learned that this idea 
had been carried out during my temporary absence 
from the district, and that the Muhammadan priest, 
after cupping him severely, had shown him seven large 
mantises which he pretended to have extracted from 
the back of his head. The experiment proved extra- 
ordinarily successful, and Raja Kahar recovered at all 
events for the time. He declared, however, that there 
were more of these mantises left, and eventually suffered 
a relapse and died during my absence in England on 
leave. For the time, however, the improvement was 
quite remarkable, and when Said Mashahor, the Peng- 
hulu of Kerling, visited him a few days later, Raja 


Kahar, after an account of the cure from his own point 
of view, declared that nobody would now believe that 
he had been so ill, although " no fewer than seven large 
mantises" had been "extracted from his head." 

I now give a specimen of the ceremonies used for 
recalling a wandering soul by means of a dough figure 
or image (gambar tepong]. It is not stated whether 
any of the usual accessories of these figures (hair and 
nails, etc.) are mixed with the dough, but an old and 
famous soul-doctor ('Che Amal, of Jugra) told me that 
the dough figure should be made, in strictness, from 
the ball of kneaded dough which is rolled all over the 
patient's body by the medicine-man during the "suck- 
ing-charm " ceremony (mengalin). The directions for 
making it run as follows : 

Make an image of dough, in length about nine 
inches, and representing the opposite sex to that of 
the patient. Deposit it (on its back) upon five cubits 
of white cloth, which must be folded up small for the 
purpose, and then plant a miniature green umbrella 
(made of cloth coated thickly with wax, and standing 
from four to five inches in height) at the head of the 
image, and a small green clove-shaped taper (of about 
the same height) at its feet. Then burn incense ; take 
three handfuls each of "parched," "washed," and 
"saffron" rice, and scatter them thrice round the figure, 
saying as you do so : 

" O Flying Paper, 
Come and fly into this cup. 
Pass by me like a shadow, 

I am applying the charm called the ' Drunken Stars ] 
Drunken stars are on my left, 
A full moon (lit. 1 4th day moon) is on my right, 

1 Bintang, a star, means "the eye" in Malay ghost language 


And the Umbrella of Si Lanchang is opposite to me 
Grant this by virtue of ' There is no god but God,' " etc. 

The statement that this dough image should repre- 
sent the opposite sex to that of the patient should be 
received with caution, and requires further investigation 
to clear it up. My informant explained that the " Fly- 
ing Paper" (kretas layang-layang) referred to the soul- 
cloth, and the " cup " to the image, but if this explana- 
tion is accepted, it is yet not unlikely that a real cup 
was used in the original charm. The " drunken stars " 
he explained as referring to the parched rice scattered 
on his left, and the full moon to the eyes of the image. 
Arguing from the analogy of other ceremonies con- 
ducted on the same lines, the wandering soul would 
be recalled and induced to enter the so-called cup (i.e. 
the dough image), and being transferred thence to the 
soul-cloth underneath it, would be passed on to the 
patient in the soul-cloth itself. 

Another way to recall a soul (which was taught me 
by 'Che 'Abas of Kelantan) is to take seven betel-leaves 
with meeting leaf-ribs (sirih bertemu urat\ and make 
them up into seven "chews" of betel. Then take a 
plateful of saffron -rice, parched rice, and washed rice, 
and seven pieces of parti-coloured thread (benang 
pancharona tujoh uraf] and an egg ; deposit these 
at the feet of the sick man, giving him one end of 
the thread to hold, and fastening the other end to the 


The soul is then called upon to return to the house 
which it has deserted, is caught in a soul -cloth, and 
passed (it is thought) first of all into the egg, and 
thence back into the patient's body by means of the 
thread which connects the egg with the patient. The 
charm runs as follows : 


" Peace be with you, O Breath ! 
Hither, Breath, come hither ! 
Hither, Soul, come hither ! 
Hither, Little One, come hither ! 
Hither, Filmy One, come hither ! 
Hither, I am sitting and praising you ! 
Hither, I am sitting and waving to you ! 
Come back to your house and house-ladder, 
To your floor of which the planks have started, 
To your thatch-roof ' starred ' (with holes). 
Do not bear grudges, 
Do not bear malice, 
Do not take it as a wrong, 
Do not take it as a transgression. 
Here I sit and praise you. 
Here I sit and drag you (home), 
Here I sit and shout for you, 
Here I sit and wave to you, 
Come at this very time, come at this very moment," etc. 

Another way of recalling the soul is as follows : 
Put some husked rice in a rice-bag (sumpif) with 
an egg, a nail, and a candle-nut ; scatter it (kirei) thrice 
round the patient's head, and deposit the bag be- 
hind his pillow (di kapala tidor\ after repeating this 
charm : 

" Cluck, cluck, souls of So-and-so, all seven of you, 
Return ye unto your own house and house-ladder ! 
Here are your parents come to summon you back, 
Back to your own house and house-ladder, your own clearing and 

To the presence of your own parents, of your own family and 


Go not to and fro, 
But return to your own home." 

When three days have expired, gather up the rice 
again and put it all back into the bag. If there is a 
grain over throw it to the fowls, but if the measure 
falls short repeat the ceremony. 

Again, in order to recall an escaping soul (riang 


stmangai) the soul-doctor will take a fowl's egg, seven 
small cockle-shells (kulit krang tujoh kVping), and a 
kal 1 of husked rice, and put them all together into 
a rice-bag (sumpit\ He then rubs the bag all over 
the skin of the patient's body, shakes the contents 
well up together, and deposits it again close to the 
patient's head. Whilst shaking them up he repeats 
the following charm : 

" Cluck ! cluck ! soul of this sick man, So-and-so, 
Return into the frame and body of So-and-so, 
To your own house and house-ladder, to your own ground and 

To your own parents, to your own sheath." 

At the end of three days he measures the rice ; if the 
amount has increased, it signifies that the soul has 
returned ; if it is the same as before, it is still half 
out of the body ; if less, the soul has escaped and has 
not yet returned. In this case the soul is expected 
to enter the rice and thus cause its displacement. 

Another method, not of recalling the soul, but of 
stopping it in the act of escaping, is to take a gold 
ring, not less than a maidm* in weight, an iron nail, 
a candle-nut (buak Kras\ three small cockle-shells, 
three closed fistfuls of husked rice (ttras tiga genggam 
bunyi], and some parti-coloured thread. These articles 
are all put in a rice-bag, and shaken up together seven 
times every morning for three days, by which time 
the soul is supposed to be firmly reseated in the 
patient's body ; then the rice is poured out at the 
door "to let the fowls eat it." The ring is tied to 
the patient's wrist by means of a strip of tree-bark 
(kulit trap), and it is by means of this string 

1 About 5 lb. avoirdupois. 
2 A maiam is ^th of a bungkal and equal to 52 grains. 


that the soul is supposed to return to its body. 
When the shaking takes place the following charm 
must be recited : 

" Peeling-Knife, 1 hooked Knife, 
Stuck into the thatch-wall ! 
Sea-demons ! Hamlet-demons ! 
Avaunt ye, begone from here, 
And carry not off the soul of So-and-so" etc. 

In conclusion, I will give a quotation from Malay 
Sketches, which is perhaps as good an example as 
could be given of the way in which the Black Art and 
the medical performances that in their methods closely 
resemble it, are regarded by many respectable Malays: 

" One evening I was discussing these various 
superstitions with the Sultan of Perak, and I did not 
notice that the spiritual teacher of His Highness had 
entered and was waiting to lead the evening prayer. 
The guru, or teacher, no doubt heard the end of our 
conversation, and was duly scandalised, for the next 
day I received from him a letter, of which the follow- 
ing is the translation : 

" ' First praise to God, the Giver of all good, a 
Fountain of Compassion to His servants. 

" ' From Haji Wan Muhammad, Teacher of His 
Highness the Sultan of Perak, to the Resident who 
administers the Government of Perak. 

" ' The whole earth is in the hand of the Most High 
God, and He gives it as an inheritance to whom He 
will of His subjects. The true religion is also of 
God, and Heaven is the reward of those who fear 
the Most High. Salvation and peace are for those 

1 The peeling -knife (pisau rout) is other end flies up and wounds them, 

mentioned because it is dreaded by Such spirits as the Wild Huntsman are 

the demons, who hurt themselves (it is specially mentioned as being afraid of 

alleged) by treading on one end of it, it. Vide p. 118, siipra. 
when, owing to its curved blade, the 

vi DANCES 457 

who follow the straight path, and only they will in 
the end arrive at real greatness. No Raja can do 
good, and none can be powerful, except by the help 
of God, the Most High, who is also Most Mighty. 

" ' I make ten thousand salutations. I wish to 
inquire about the practice of ber-hantu, driving one- 
self mad and losing one's reason, as has been the 
custom of Rajas and Chiefs in this State of Perak ; 
is it right, according to your religion, Mr. Resident, 
or is it not ? For that practice is a deadly sin to the 
Muhammadan Faith, because those who engage in 
it lose their reason and waste their substance for 
nothing ; some of them cast it into the water, while 
others scatter it broadcast through the jungle. How 
is such conduct treated by your religion, Mr. Resident; 
is it right or wrong ? I want you in your indulgence 
to give me an answer, for this practice is very hard 
on the poor. The Headmen collect from the rayats, 
and then they make elaborate preparations of food, 
killing a buffalo or fowls, and all this is thrown away 
as already stated. According to the Muhammadan 
religion such proceedings lead to destruction. 

" ' I salute you many times; do not be angry, for 
I do not understand your customs, Mr. Resident. 

" ' (Signed) Haji Muhammad Abu Hassan.' " l 

Dance Ceremonies 

The following passage is an account of a character- 
istic Malay dance, the Joget : 

" Malays are not dancers, but they pay professional 

1 Swettenham, Malay Sketches, pp. 208-210. 


performers to dance for their amusement, and consider 
that ' the better part ' is with those who watch, at 
their ease, the exertions of a small class, whose 
members are not held in the highest respect. The 
spectacle usually provided is strangely wanting in 
attraction : a couple of women shuffling their feet 
and swaying their hands in gestures that are practi- 
cally devoid of grace or even variety that is the 
Malay dance and it is accompanied by the beating 
of native drums, the striking together of two short 
sticks held in either hand, and the occasional boom 
of a metal gong. The entertainment has an un- 
doubted fascination for Malays, but it generally forms 
part of a theatrical performance, and for Western 
spectators it is immeasurably dull. 1 

"In one of the Malay States, however, Pahang, it 
has for years been the custom for the ruler and one 
or two of his near relatives to keep trained dancing 
girls, who perform what is called the ' Joget ' a 
real dance with an accompaniment of something like 
real music, though the orchestral instruments are very 
rude indeed. 

" The dancers, budak joget, belong to the Raja's 
household, they may even be attached to him by a 
closer tie ; they perform seldom, only for the amuse- 
ment of their lord and his friends, and the public 
are not admitted. Years ago I saw such a dance, 2 
and though peculiar to Pahang, as far as the Malay 
States are concerned, it is probable that it came 
originally from Java ; the instruments used by the 

1 This is a description of Malay it has a real meaning, which by 

dancing from the European point of Europeans (like that of the Malay 

view; the reason of the "undoubted four-rhymed stanza or pantuti) is quite 

fascination which it has for the Malays " inadequately understood, 
being no doubt the fact that for them 2 In 1875. 

vi THE JOGET 459 

orchestra and the airs played are certainly far more 
common in Java and Sumatra than in the Peninsula. 

14 I had gone to Pahang on a political mission 
accompanied by a friend, and we were vainly court- 
ing sleep in a miserable lodging, when at i A.M. a 
message came from the Sultan inviting us to witness 
a joget. We accepted with alacrity, and at once 
made our way to the astana, a picturesque, well-built, 
and commodious house on the right bank of the 
Pahang river. A palisade enclosed the courtyard, 
and the front of the house was a very large hall, 
open on three sides, but covered by a lofty roof of 
fantastic design supported on pillars. The floor of 
this hall was approached by three wide steps con- 
tinued round the three open sides, the fourth being 
closed by a wooden wall which entirely shut off the 
private apartments save for one central door over 
which hung a heavy curtain. The three steps were 
to provide sitting accommodation according to their 
rank for those admitted to the astana. The middle 
of the floor on the night in question was covered 
by a large carpet, chairs were placed for us, and the 
rest of the guests sat on the steps of the dais. 

"When we entered, we saw, seated on the carpet, 
four girls, two of them about eighteen and two about 
eleven years old, all attractive according to Malay 
ideas of beauty, and all gorgeously and picturesquely 
clothed. On their heads they each wore a large and 
curious but very pretty ornament of delicate workman- 
ship a sort of square flower garden where all the 
flowers were gold, trembling and glittering with every 
movement of the wearer. These ornaments were 
secured to the head by twisted cords of silver and 
gold. The girls' hair, combed down in a fringe, was 


cut in a perfect oval round their foreheads and very 
becomingly dressed behind. 

" The bodices of their dresses were made of tight- 
fitting silk, leaving the neck and arms bare, whilst 
a white band of fine cambric (about one and a half 
inches wide), passing round the neck, came down on 
the front of the bodice in the form of a V, and was 
there fastened by a golden flower. Round their 
waists were belts fastened with large and curiously- 
worked pinding or buckles of gold, so large that 
they reached quite across the waist. The rest 
of the costume consisted of a skirt of cloth of 
gold (not at all like the sarong], reaching to the 
ankles, while a scarf of the same material, fastened 
in its centre to the waist-buckle, hung down to the 
hem of the skirt. 

" All four dancers were dressed alike, except that 
the older girls wore white silk bodices with a red and 
gold handkerchief, folded corner-wise, tied under the 
arms and knotted in front. The points of the handker- 
chief hung to the middle of the back. In the case of the 
two younger girls the entire dress was of one material. 
On their arms the dancers wore numbers of gold 
bangles, and their fingers were covered with diamond 
rings. In their ears were fastened the diamond 
buttons so much affected by Malays, and indeed now 
by Western ladies. Their feet, of course, were bare. 
We had ample time to minutely observe these 
details before the dance commenced, for when we 
came into the hall the four girls were sitting down 
in the usual l Eastern fashion on the carpet, bending 
forward, their elbows resting on their thighs, and 

1 The attitude is that obtained by transferring the body directly from a 
kneeling to a sitting position. 


hiding the sides of their faces, which were towards 
the audience, with fans made of crimson and gilt 
paper which sparkled in the light. 

" On our entrance the band struck up, and our 
special attention was called to the orchestra, as the 
instruments are seldom seen in the Malay Peninsula. 
There were two chief performers : one playing on a 
sort of harmonicon, the notes of which he struck 
with pieces of stick held in each hand. The other, 
with similar pieces of wood, played on inverted metal 
bowls. Both these performers seemed to have suffici- 
ently hard work, but they played with the greatest 
spirit from 10 P.M. till 5 A.M. 

" The harmonicon is called by Malays chelempong, 
and the inverted bowls, which give a pleasant and 
musical sound like the noise of rippling water, a gam- 
bang. The other members of the orchestra consisted 
of a very small boy who played, with a very large and 
thick stick, on a gigantic gong, an old woman who 
beat a drum with two sticks, and several other boys 
who played on instruments like triangles called chdnang. 
All these performers, we were told with much 
solemnity, were artists of the first order, masters and a 
mistress in their craft, and if vigour of execution counts 
for excellence they proved the justice of the praise. 

" The Hall, of considerable size, capable of accom- 
modating several hundreds of people, was only dimly 
lighted, but the fact that, while the audience was in 
semi-darkness, the light was concentrated on the per- 
formers added to the effect. Besides ourselves, I 
. question whether there were more than twenty spec- 
tators, but sitting on the top of the dais, near to the 
dancers, it was hard to pierce the surrounding gloom. 
The orchestra was placed on the left of the entrance 


to the Hall, that is, rather to the side and rather in 
the background, a position evidently chosen with due 
regard to the feelings of the audience. 

" From the elaborate and vehement execution of the 
players, and the want of regular time in the music, I 
judged, and rightly, that we had entered as the over- 
ture began. During its performance the dancers sat 
leaning forward, hiding their faces as I have described ; 
but when it concluded and, without any break, the 
music changed into the regular rhythm for dancing, 
the four girls dropped their fans, raised their hands in 
the act of Sembah or homage, and then began the 
dance by swaying their bodies and slowly waving their 
arms and hands in the most graceful movements 
making much and effective use all the while of the 
scarf hanging from their belts. Gradually raising 
themselves from a sitting to a kneeling posture, act- 
ing in perfect accord in every motion, then rising 
to their feet, they floated through a series of figures 
hardly to be exceeded in grace and difficulty, con- 
sidering that the movements are essentially slow, the 
arms, hands, and body being the real performers, 
whilst the feet are scarcely noticed and for half the 
time not visible. 

" They danced five or six dances, each lasting quite 
half an hour, with materially different figures and time 
in the music. All these dances, I was told, were sym- 
bolical : one of agriculture, with the tilling of the soil, 
the sowing of the seed, the reaping and winnowing of 
the grain, might easily have been guessed from the 
dancer's movements. But those of the audience whom 
I was near enough to question were, Malay -like, un- 
able to give me much information. Attendants stood 
or sat near the dancers, and from time to time, as the 


girls tossed one thing on the floor, handed them 
another. Sometimes it was a fan or a mirror they 
held, sometimes a flower or small vessel, but oftener 
their hands were empty, as it is in the management of 
the fingers that the chief art of Malay dancers consists. 

" The last dance, symbolical of war, was perhaps the 
best, the music being much faster, almost inspiriting, 
and the movements of the dancers more free and even 
abandoned. For the latter half of the dance they each 
held a wand, to represent a sword, bound with three 
rings of burnished gold which glittered in the light like 
precious stones. This nautch, which began soberly like 
the others, grew to a wild revel until the dancers were, 
or pretended to be, possessed by the Spirit of Dancing, 
hantu mendrtzs they called it, and leaving the Hall for 
a moment to smear their fingers and faces with a 
fragrant oil, they returned, and the two eldest, striking 
at each other with their wands, seemed inclined to turn 
the symbolical into a real battle. They were, how- 
ever, after some trouble, caught by four or five women 
and carried forcibly out of the Hall, but not until their 
captors had been made to feel the weight of the magic 
wands. The two younger girls, who looked as if they 
too would like to be "possessed," but did not know 
how to accomplish it, were easily caught and removed. 

" The bands, whose strains had been increasing in 
wildness and in time, ceased playing on the removal of 
the dancers, and the nautch, which had begun at 10 
P.M., was over. 

" The Raja, who had only appeared at 4 A.M., told 
me that one of the elder girls, when she became 
"properly possessed," lived for months on nothing but 
flowers, a pretty and poetic conceit. 

"As we left the Astana, and taking boat rowed 


slowly to the vessel waiting for us off the river's mouth, 
the rising sun was driving the fog from the numbers 
of lovely green islets, that seemed to float like dew- 
drenched lotus leaves on the surface of the shallow 
stream. 1 " 

The religious origin of almost all Malay dances is 
still to be seen in the performance of such ritualistic 
observances as the burning of incense, the scattering 
of rice, and the invocation of the Dance-spirit accord- 
ing to certain set forms, the spirit being duly exorcised 
again (or "escorted homewards," as it is called) at the 
end of the performance. 

The dances which have best preserved the older 
ritual are precisely those which are the least often seen, 
such as the " Gambor Dance " (main gambor], the 
" Monkey Dance " (main b'rok], the " Palm-blossom 
Dance " (main mayang], and the " Fish-trap Dance " 
(main lukak). These I will take in the order 

The " Gambor Dance " (lit. Gambor Play) should 
be performed by girls just entering upon womanhood. 
The debutante is attired in an attractive coat and skirt 
(sarong], is girt about at the waist with a yellow (royal) 
sash, and is further provided with an elaborate head- 
dress, crescent-shaped pendants (dokoJi) for the breast, 
and a fan. The only other "necessary" is the 
" Pleasure-garden " (taman bunga], which is repre- 
sented by a large water-jar containing a bunch of long 
sprays, from the ends of which are made to depend 
artificial flowers, fruit, and birds, the whole being 
intended to attract the spirit (Hantu Gambor). In 
addition there is the usual circular tray, with its com- 
plement of sacrificial rice and incense. Everything 

1 Swettenham, Malay Sketches, ch. vii. pp. 44-52. 


Model, showing the performance of the kind of dance called gaml'or. The 
suspended figure in the centre is the performer, the musicians sitting on the 
left. Iiehind the musicians are to he seen some of the sprays of the bouquet 
of artificial flowers, etc.. which is used to represent a pleasure garden (taian 
/iingu) f" r the attraction of the dance-spirit. The bird at the top of it is 
a hornliill. 

rage 464. 


being ready, the debutante lies down and is covered 
over with a sheet, and incense is burnt, the sacrificial 
rice sprinkled, and the invocation of the spirit is 
chanted by a woman to the accompaniment of the 
tambourines. Ere it has ended, if all goes well, the. 
charm will have begun to work, the spirit descends, 
and the dance commences. 

At the end of this dance, as has already been said, 
the spirit is exorcised, that is, he is " escorted back " 
to the seventh heaven from whence he came. 

The invocations, which are used both at the com- 
mencement and the conclusion of the performance, 
consist of poems which belong unmistakably to the 
" Panji " cycle of stories ; here and there they contain 
old words which are still used in Java. 

The " Monkey Dance" is achieved by causing the 
" Monkey spirit " to enter into a girl of some ten years 
of age. She is first rocked to and fro in a Malay 
infant's swinging-cot (buayan), and fed with areca-nut 
and salt (pinang garam). When she is sufficiently 
dizzy or " dazed " (mabok), an invocation addressed 
to the "Monkey spirit" is chanted (to tambourine 
accompaniments), and at its close the child commences 
to perform a dance, in the course of which she is said 
sometimes to achieve some extraordinary climbing 
feats which she could never have achieved unless 
" possessed." When it is time for her to recover her 
senses she is called upon by name, and if that fails to 
recall her, is bathed all over with cocoa-nut milk (ayer 
niyor hijau}. 

The foregoing does not, of course, in any way ex- 
haust the list of Malay dances. Others will be found 
described in various parts of this book, amongst them 
the " Henna Dance " (at weddings) ; the medicine- 

2 H 


man's dance, as performed at the bedside of a sick 
person ; the dance performed in honour of a dead 
tiger ; theatrical dances, and many kinds of sword and 
dagger dances, or posture-dances (such as the main 
bersilat, or main berpenchaK], whether performed for the 
diversion of the beholders or by way of defiance (as in 
war). The main dabus is a dance performed with 
a species of iron spits, whose upper ends are furnished 
with hoops, upon which small iron rings are strung, and 
which accordingly give out a jingling noise when shaken. 
Two of these spits (buah dabus] are charmed (to 
deaden their bite), and taken up, one in each hand, by 
the dancer, who shakes them at each step that he 
takes. When he is properly possessed, he drives the 
points of these spits through the muscle of each fore- 
arm, and lets them hang down whilst he takes up a 
second pair. He then keeps all four spits jingling at 
once until the dance ceases. The point of each spit 
goes right through the muscle, but if skilfully done, 
draws no blood. 1 

We now come to a class of dances in which 
certain inanimate objects, that are believed to be 
temporarily animated, are the performers, and which 
therefore closely correspond to the performances of 
our own spiritualists. 

The Palm-blossom dance is a very curious exhibi- 
tion, which I once saw performed in the Langat 
District of Selangor. Two freshly-gathered sheaves of 
areca-palm blossom (each several feet in length) were 
deposited upon a new mat, near a tray containing a 
censer and the three kinds of sacrificial rice. 

The magician ('Che Ganti by name) commenced 
the performance by playing a prelude on his violin. 

1 This dance is said to be borrowed from the Arabs. 


Model, showing the performance of f>"'dikir (a kind of dance) before a newly-married couple. The 
performers are two girls, who carry fans and wear a peculiar head-dress towards the left of the 
picture are seated the musicians with tambourines (rfbana), and on the right some spectators. 
The bride and bridegroom are seated on the dais, the latter towards the middle of the picture. 
Near him are seen the marriage-pillows (which are in correct proportion), and overhead the 
ornamental clothes-rod with clothes. The tree-like object on the left is the sftakona : it is the 
only object out of proportion, being too large. Rolled up in front are the striped hangings used 
at Malay weddings. 

Page 466. 


Presently his wife (an aged Selangor woman) took 
some of the rice in her hand and commenced to chant 
the words of the invocation, she being almost immedi- 
ately joined in the chant by a younger woman. 
Starting with the words, " Thus I brace up, I brace up 
the Palm-blossom " (ku anggit mayang 'ku anggit\ 
their voices rose higher and higher until the seventh 
stanza was reached, when the old woman covered the 
two sheaves of Palm-blossom with a Malay plaid skirt 
(sarong) and the usual " five cubits of white cloth " 
(folded double), both of which had of course first 
been fumigated. Then followed seven more stanzas 
(" Borrow the hammer, Borrow the anvil," and its 
companion verses), and rice having been thrown over 
one of the sheaves of palm-blossom, its sheath was 
opened and the contents fumigated. Then the old 
woman took the newly-fumigated sheaf between her 
hands, and the chant recommenced with the third 
septet of stanzas (" Dig up, dig up, the wild ginger 
plant "), as the erect palm-blossom swayed from side 
to side in time to the music. Finally the fiddle stopped 
and tambourines were substituted, and at this point 
the sheaf of blossom commenced to jump about on its 
stalk, as if it were indeed possessed, and eventually 
dashed itself upon the ground. After one or two 
repetitions of this performance, other persons present 
were invited to try it, and did so with varying success, 
which depended, I was told, upon the impressionability 
of their souls, as the palm-blossom would not dance 
for anybody whose soul was not impressionable (lemah 

When the first blossom-sheaf had been destroyed 
by the rough treatment which it had to undergo, the 
second was duly fumigated and introduced to the 


company, and finally the performance was brought to 
a close by the chanting of the stanzas in which the 
spirit is requested to return to his own place. The 
two spoiled sheaves of blossom were then carried re- 
spectfully out of the house and laid on the ground 
beneath a banana-tree. 

The Dancing Fish-trap (main hikak] is a spiritual- 
istic performance, in which a fish-trap (lukafi) is sub- 
stituted for the sheaf of palm-blossom, and a different 
invocation is used. In other respects there is very little 
difference between the two. The fish-trap is dressed 
up much in the same way as a "scare-crow," so as to 
present a rough and ready resemblance to the human 
figure, i.e. it is dressed in a woman s coat and plaid 
skirt (sarong], both of which must, if possible, have 
been worn previously ; a stick is run through it to 
serve as the arms of the figure, and a (sterile) cocoa-nut 
shell (tempurong jantan] clapped on the top to serve 
as a head. The invocation is then chanted in the 
same manner and to the same accompaniment as that 
used for the " Palm-blossom." At its conclusion the 
magician whispers, so to speak, into the fish-trap's ear, 
bidding it " not to disgrace him," but rise up and dance, 
and the fish-trap presently commences to rock to and fro, 
and to leap about in a manner which of course proves 
it to be " possessed " by the spirit. Two different 
specimens of the invocations used will be found in the 

Buffalo Fights and Cock Fights 

" The Malays are passionately addicted to buffalo 
and cock fighting. Whole poems are devoted to 
enthusiastic descriptions of these 'sports of princes,' 


and laws laid down for the latter as minute as those of 
the Hoyleian code." 

"The bulls have been trained and medicined for 
months beforehand, with much careful tending, many 
strength-giving potions, and volumes of the old-world 
charms, which put valour and courage into a beast. 
They stand at each end of a piece of grassy lawn, with 
their knots of admirers around them, descanting on 
their various points, and with the proud trainer, who 
is at once keeper and medicine-man, holding them by 
the cord which is passed through their nose-rings. 
Until you have seen the water-buffalo stripped for the 
fight, it is impossible to conceive how handsome the 
ugly brute can look. One has been accustomed to see 
him with his neck bowed to the yoke he hates, and 
breaks whenever the opportunity offers ; or else in 
the pddi fields. In the former case he looks out 
of place, an anachronism belonging to a prehistoric 
period, drawing a cart which seems also to date back 
to the days before the Deluge. In the fields the 
buffalo has usually a complete suit of grey mud, and 
during the quiet evening hour goggles at you through 
the clouds of flies which surround his flapping ears 
and brutal nose, the only parts that can be seen of 
him above the surface of the mud-hole or the running 
water of the river. In both cases he is unlovely, but 
in the bull-ring he has something magnificent about 
him. His black coat has a gloss upon it which would 
not disgrace a London carriage horse, and which shows 
him to be in tip-top condition. His neck seems thicker 
and more powerful than that of any other animal, and 
it glistens with the chili water, which has been poured 
over it in order to increase his excitement. His 

1 Newbold, Malacca, vol. ii. p. 179. 


resolute shoulders, his straining quarters, each vying 
with the other for the prize for strength, and his 
great girth, give a look of astonishing vigour and 
vitality to the animal. It is the head of the buffalo, 
however, which it is best to look at on these occasions. 
Its great spread of horns is very imposing, and the 
eyes, which are usually sleepy, cynically contemptuous 
and indifferent, or sullenly cruel, are for once full of 
life, anger, passion, and excitement. He stands there 
quivering and stamping, blowing great clouds of smoke 
from his mouth and nose : 

" With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim, 
And with circles of red for his eye-socket's rim. 

" The wild joy of battle is sending the blood boiling 
through the great arteries of the beast, and his 
accustomed lethargic existence is galvanised into a 
new fierce life. You can see that he is longing for the 
battle with an ardour that would have distanced that 
of a Quixote, and, for the first time, you begin to see 
something to admire even in the water-buffalo. 

"A crowd of Rajas, Chiefs, and commoners are 
assembled, in their gaily - coloured garments, which 
always serve to give life and beauty to every Malay 
picture, with its setting of brilliant never-fading green. 
The women in their gaudy silks, and dainty veils, 
glance coquettishly from behind the fenced enclosure 
which has been prepared for their protection, and 
where they are quite safe from injury. The young 
Rdjas stalk about, examine the bulls, and give loud 
and contradictory orders as to the manner in which 
the fight is to be conducted. The keepers, fortunately, 
are so deafened by the row which every one near them 
is making, that they are utterly incapable of following 

vi THE BULL- RING 471 

directions which they cannot hear. Malays love many 
people and many things, and one of the latter is the 
sound of their own voices. When they are excited 
and in the bull-ring they are always wild with excite- 
ment they wax very noisy indeed, and, as they all 
talk, and no one listens to what any one else is saying, 
the green sward on which the combat is to take 
place speedily becomes a pandemonium, compared 
with which the Tower of Babel was a quiet corner in 
Sleepy Hollow. 

" At last the word to begin is given, and the keepers 
of the buffaloes let out the lines made fast to the bulls' 
noses, and lead their charges to the centre of the 
green. The lines are crossed, and then gradually 
drawn taut, so that the bulls are soon facing one 
another. Then the knots are loosed, and the cords 
slip from the nose-rings. A dead silence falls upon 
the people, and for a moment the combatants eye one 
another. Then they rush together, forehead to fore- 
head, with a mighty impact. A fresh roar rends the 
sky, the backers of each beast shrieking advice and 
encouragement to the bull which carries their money. 

" After the first rush, the bulls no longer charge, but 
stand with interlaced horns, straining shoulders, and 
quivering quarters, bringing tremendous pressure to 
bear one upon the other, while each strives to get a 
grip with the point of its horns upon the neck, or 
cheeks, or face of its opponent. A buffalo's horn is 
not sharp, but the weight of the animal is enormous, 
and you must remember that the horns are driven with 
the whole of the brute's bulk for lever and sledge- 
hammer. Such force as is exerted would be almost 
sufficient to push a crowbar through a stone wall, and, 
tough though they are, the hardest of old bull buffaloes 


is not proof against the terrible pressure brought to 
bear. The bulls show wonderful activity and skill in 
these fencing matches. Each beast gives way the 
instant that it is warned by the touch of the horn-tip 
that its opponent has found an opening, and woe 
betide the bull that puts its weight into a stab which 
the other has time to elude. In the flick of an eye- 
as the Malay phrase has it advantage is taken of 
the blunder, and, before the bull has time to recover its 
lost balance, its opponent has found an opening, and 
has wedged its horn-point into the neck or cheek. 
When at last a firm grip has been won, and the horn 
has been driven into the yielding flesh, as far as the 
struggles of its opponent render possible, the stabber 
makes his great effort. Pulling his hind-legs well 
under him, and straightening his fore-legs to the utmost 
extent, till the skin is drawn taut over the projecting 
bosses of bone at the shoulders, and the knots of 
muscle stand out like cordage on a crate, he lifts his 
opponent. His head is skewed on one side, so that 
the horn on which his adversary is hooked is raised to 
the highest level possible, and his massive neck strains 
and quivers with the tremendous effort. If the stab is 
sufficiently low down, say in the neck or under the 
cheek-bone, the wounded bull is often lifted clean off 
his fore-feet, and hangs there helpless and motionless 
'while a man might count a score.' The exertion of 
lifting, however, is too great to admit of its being 
continued for any length of time, and as soon as the 
wounded buffalo regains its power of motion that is 
to say, as soon as its fore -feet are again on the 
ground it speedily releases itself from its adversary's 
horn. Then, since the latter is often spent by the 
extraordinary effort which has been made, it frequently 

v i THE FIGHT 473 

happens that it is stabbed and lifted in its turn before 
balance has been completely recovered. 

" Once, and only once, have I seen a bull succeed 
in throwing his opponent, after he had lifted it off its 
feet. The vanquished bull turned over on its back 
before it succeeded in regaining its feet, but the victor 
was itself too used up to more than make a ghost of 
a stab at the exposed stomach of its adversary. This 
throw is still spoken of in Pahang as the most 
marvellous example of skill and strength which has 
ever been called forth within living memory by any of 
these contests. 

" As the stabs follow one another, to the sound of 
the clicking of the horns and the mighty blowing and 
snorting of the breathless bulls, lift succeeds lift with 
amazing rapidity. The green turf is stamped into mud 
by the great hoofs of the labouring brutes, and at 
length one bull owns himself to be beaten. Down 
goes his head that sure sign of exhaustion and in 
a moment he has turned round and is off on a bee- 
line, hotly pursued by the victor. The chase is never 
a long one, as the conqueror always abandons it at the 
end of a few hundred yards, but while it lasts it is fast 
and furious, and woe betide the man who finds himself 
in the way of either of the excited animals. 

" Mr. Kipling has told us all about the Law of the 
Jungle which after all is only the code of man, 
adapted to the use of the beasts by Mr. Rudyard 
Kipling but those who know the ways of buffaloes 
are aware that they possess one very well-recognised 
law. This is, 'Thou shalt not commit trespass.' 
Every buffalo-bull has its own ground ; and into this 
no other bull willingly comes. If he is brought there 
to do battle, he fights with very little heart, and is 


easily vanquished by an opponent of half his strength 
and bulk who happens to be fighting on his own land. 
When bulls are equally matched, they are taken to 
fight on neutral ground. When they are badly matched 
the land owned by the weaker is selected for the scene 
of the contest. 

" All these fights are brutal, and in time they will, 
we trust, be made illegal. To pass a prohibitionary 
regulation, however, without the full consent of the 
Chiefs and people of Pahang would be a distinct breach 
of the understanding on which British Protection was 
accepted by them. The Government is pledged not 
to interfere with native customs, and the sports in 
which animals are engaged are among the most 
cherished institutions of the people of Pahang. To 
fully appreciate the light in which any interference 
with these things would be viewed by the native 
population, it is necessary to put oneself in the 
position of a keen member of the Quorn, who saw 
Parliament making hunting illegal, on the grounds 
that the sufferings inflicted on the fox rendered it an 
inhuman pastime. As I have said in a former chapter, 
the natives of Pahang are, in their own way, very keen 
sportsmen indeed ; and, when all is said and done, it 
is doubtful whether hunting is not more cruel than 
anything which takes place in a Malay cock-pit or 
bull-ring. The longer the run the better the sport, 
and more intense and prolonged the agony of the fox, 
that strives to run for his life, even when he is so stiff 
with exertion that he can do little more than roll 
along. All of us have, at one time or another, 
experienced in nightmares the agony of attempting 
to fly from some pursuing phantom, when our limbs 
refuse to serve us. This, I fancy, is much what a fox 


suffers, only his pains are intensified by the grimness 
of stern reality. If he stops he loses his life, there- 
fore he rolls, and flounders, and creeps along when 
every movement has become a fresh torture. The 
cock, quail, dove, bull, ram, or fish, 1 on the other hand, 
fights because it is his nature to do so, and when he 
has had his fill he stops. His pluck, his pride, and 
his hatred of defeat alone urge him to continue the 
contest. He is never driven by the relentless whip of 
stern, inexorable necessity. This it is which makes 
fights between animals, that are properly conducted, 
less cruel than one is apt to imagine." 

I will now pass to the subject of cock-fighting, of 
which the following vivid description is also taken from 
Mr. Clifford's In Court and Kampong? 

"In the Archipelago, and on the West Coast of the 
Peninsula, cock-fights are conducted in the manner 
known to the Malays as ber-tdji, the birds being armed 
with long artificial spurs, sharp as razors, and curved 
like a Malay woman's eyebrow. These weapons make 
cruel wounds, and cause the death of one or other 
of the combatants almost before the sport has well 
begun. To the Malay of the East Coast this form of 
cock-fighting is regarded as stupid and unsportsman- 
like, an opinion which I fully share. It is the 
marvellous pluck and endurance of the birds that lend 

1 " I have said that all birds fight of their horny foreheads is sufficient to 

more or less, but birds are not alone reduce a man's hand to a shapeless 

in this. The little, wide -mouthed, pulp should it find its way- between 

goggled - eyed fishes, which Malay the combatants' skulls. Tigers box 

ladies keep in bottles and old kerosine like pugilists, and bite like French 

tins, fight like demons. Goats sit up school - boys ; and buffaloes fight 

and strike with their cloven hoofs, and clumsily, violently, and vindictively, 

butt and stab with their horns. The after the manner of their kind." In 

silly sheep canter gaily to the battle, Court and Kamfong, p. 52. 

deliver thundering blows on one z Ibid. pp. 54-61. 

another's foreheads, and then retire 3 Ibid. pp. 48-52. 
and charge once more. The impact 


an interest to a cock-fight qualities which are in no 
way required if the birds are armed with weapons other 
than those with which they are furnished by nature. 

" A cock-fight between two well-known birds is a 
serious affair in Pahang. The rival qualities of the 
combatants have furnished food for endless discussion 
for weeks, or even months, before, and every one of 
standing has visited and examined the cocks, and has 
made a book upon the event. On the day fixed for 
the fight a crowd collects before the palace, and some 
of the King's youths set up the cock-pit, which is a 
ring, about three feet in diameter, enclosed by canvas 
walls, supported on stakes driven into the ground. 
Presently the Judra, or cock-fighters, appear, each 
carrying his bird under his left arm. They enter the 
cock-pit, squat down, and begin pulling at, and sham- 
pooing the legs and wings of their birds, in the manner 
which Malays believe loosen the muscles, and get the 
reefs out of the cocks' limbs. Then the word is given 
to start the fight, and the birds, released, fly straight 
at one another, striking with their spurs, and sending 
feathers flying in all directions. This lasts for perhaps 
three minutes, when the cocks begin to lose their wind, 
and the fight is carried on as much with their beaks as 
with their spurs. Each bird tries to get its head under 
its opponent's wing, running forward to strike at the 
back of its antagonist's head, as soon as its own 
emerges from under its temporary shelter. This is 
varied by an occasional blow with the spurs, and the 
Malays herald each stroke with loud cries of approval. 
Basah ! Bdsah ! ' Thou hast wetted him ! Thou hast 
drawn blood ! ' Ah itu dia ! ' That is it ! That is a 
good one ! ' Ah sakit-lah itu ! ' Ah, that was a nasty 
one ! ' And the birds are exhorted to make fresh 

vi THE FIGHT 477 

efforts, amid occasional burst of the shrill chorus of 
yells, called sorak, their backers cheering them on, and 
crying to them by name. 

" Presently time is called, the watch being a small 
section of cocoa-nut in which a hole has been bored, 
that is set floating on the surface of a jar of water, 
until it gradually becomes filled and sinks. At the 
word, each cock-fighter seizes his bird, drenches it 
with water, cleans out with a feather the phlegm which 
has collected in its throat, and shampoos its legs and 
body. Then, at the given word, the birds are again 
released, and they fly at one another with renewed 
energy. They lose their wind more speedily this 
time, and thereafter they pursue the tactics already 
described until time is again called. When some ten 
rounds have been fought, and both the birds are 
beginning to show signs of distress, the interest of the 
contest reaches its height, for the fight is at an end if 
either bird raises its back feathers in a peculiar manner, 
by which cocks declare themselves to be vanquished. 
Early in the tenth round the right eye-ball of one cock 
is broken, and, shortly after, the left eye is bunged up, 
so that for the time it is blind. Nevertheless, it 
refuses to throw up the sponge, and fights on gallantly 
to the end of the round, taking terrible punishment, 
and doing but little harm to its opponent. One cannot 
but be full of pity and admiration for the brave bird, 
which thus gives so marvellous an example of its 
pluck and endurance. At last time is called, and the 
cock-fighter who is in charge of the blinded bird, after 
examining it carefully, asks for a needle and thread, 
and the swollen lower lid of the still uninjured eye-ball 
is sewn to the piece of membrane on the bird's cheek, 
and its sight is thus once more partially restored. 


Again time is called, and the birds resume their con- 
test, the cock with the injured eye repaying its 
adversary so handsomely for the punishment which it 
had received in the previous round, that, before the 
cocoa-nut shell is half full of water, its opponent has 
surrendered, and has immediately been snatched up 
by the keeper in charge of it. The victorious bird, 
draggled and woebegone, with great patches of red 
flesh showing through its wet plumage, with the 
membrane of its face and its short gills and comb 
swollen and bloody, with one eye put out, and the 
other only kept open by the thread attached to its 
eyelid, yet makes shift to strut, with staggering gait, 
across the cock-pit, and to notify its victory by giving 
vent to a lamentable ghost of a crow. Then it is 
carried off followed by an admiring, gesticulating, 
vociferous crowd, to be elaborately tended and nursed, 
as befits so gallant a bird. The beauty of the 
sport is that either bird can stop fighting at any 
moment. They are never forced to continue the 
conflict if once they have declared themselves defeated, 
and the only real element of cruelty is thus removed. 
The birds in fighting follow the instinct which nature 
has implanted in them, and their marvellous courage 
and endurance surpass anything to be found in any 
other animals, human or otherwise, with which I am 
acquainted. Most birds fight more or less from the 
little fierce quail to the sucking doves which ignorant 
Europeans, before their illusions have been dispelled 
by a sojourn in the East, are accustomed to regard as 
the emblems of peace and purity ; but no bird, or 
beast, or fish, or human being fights so well, or takes 
such pleasure in the fierce joy of battle, as does a plucky, 
lanky, ugly, hard-bit old fighting-cock. 


" The Malays regard these birds with immense 
respect, and value their fighting-cocks next to their 
children. A few years ago, a boy, who was in charge 
of a cock which belonged to a Raja of my acquaintance, 
accidentally pulled some feathers from the bird's tail. 
'What did you do that for? Devil!' cried the 

" ' It was not done on purpose, Ungku !' said the 

" ' Thou art marvellous clever at repartee ! ' quoth 
the Prince, and, so saying, he lifted a billet of wood, 
which chanced to be lying near at hand, and smote the 
boy on the head so that he died. 

" ' That will teach my people to have a care how 
they use my fighting-cocks ! ' said the Raja ; and that 
was his servant's epitaph. 

" ' It is a mere boyish prank,' said the father of the 
young Raja, when the matter was reported to him, 
' and, moreover, it is well that he should slay one or 
two with his own hand, else how should men learn to 
fear him ? ' And there the matter ended ; but it should 
be borne in mind that the fighting-cock of a Malay 
Prince is not to be lightly trifled with." 

Of the form of cock-fighting practised on the West 
Coast of the Peninsula Newbold writes : 

" The following is a specimen from a Malay MS. 
on the subject, commencing with remarks on the 
various breeds of this noble bird : 

" The best breeds of game-cocks are the Hiring, 
the Jalak, the Teddong, the Chenantan, 1 the Ijou, the 
Pilas, the Bongkas, 2 the Su, the Belurong, 3 and the 
'Krabu. 4 

1 Su, correctly Kenantan. 3 Sic, correctly Bclurang. 

2 Sic, better Bangkas. * Sic, correctly K'labu. 


" The colour of the Hiring is red with yellow feet 
and beak. 

" The Jalak is white mixed with black, with yellow 
feet, and beak also yellow mixed with black. 

" The Teddong has black eyes and legs, red and 
black plumage, and a black beak. It is named from a 
sort of serpent, whose bite is accounted mortal. 

" The Chenantan has white feathers, feet, and beak. 

" The Ijou has a greenish black beak, feathers black 
mixed with white, legs green. 

" The Pilas has a black beak, red and black 
feathers, legs white mixed with black. 

" The Bongkas has a yellow beak, white feathers 
and yellow feet. 

"The Su has a white beak with white spots, 
plumage white and black, legs white with black spots. 

" The Belurong has a white beak with red spots, 
plumage red, white feet. 

" The Krabu has a red beak mixed with yellow, 
red feathers and yellow feet. 

" There are two kinds of spurs : first, the Golok 
Golok, in the form of a straight knife known by this 
name and in use with the Malays ; and, secondly, the 
Taji Benkok, or curved spur : the last is most in 

" There are various modes of tying on the spur, viz. 
Salik, or below the natural spur ; Kumbar, on a level 
with it ; Panggong, above the spur ; Sa ibu Tangan, a 
thumb's breadth below the knee joint ; Sa Kalinking, 
a little finger's breadth ; Andas Bulu, close to the 
feathers under the knee ; Jankir, upon the little toe ; 
Sauh wongkang, on the middle toe ; Berchingkama, 
tying the three large toes together with the spur this 
is the most advantageous ; Golok, binding the little 


toe and the toe on the left with the spur ; Golok di 
Battang, below the natural spur. It is necessary to 
observe that the Malays generally use one spur; 
though two spurs are sometimes given to match a 
weaker against a stronger bird. 

"i. The winner takes the dead bird. 

" 2. If a drawn battle (Sri) each takes his own. 

" 3. No person but the holder shall interfere with 
the cocks after they have been once set to, even if one 
of them run away, except by the permission of the 
Juara, or setter-to. Should any person do so, and the 
cock eventually win the battle, the owners shall be en- 
titled to half the stakes only. 

" 4. Should one of the cocks run away, and the 
wounded one pursue it, both birds shall be caught and 
held by their Juaras. Should the runaway cock refuse 
to peck at its adversary three times, the wings shall be 
twined over the back, and it shall be put on the 
ground for its adversary to peck at ; should he too 
refuse, after it has been three times presented, it is a 
Sri, or drawn battle. The cock that pecks wins. 

" 5. The stakes on both sides must be forthcoming 
and deposited on the spot. 

"6. A cock shall not be taken up unless the spur 
be broken, even by the Juaras. 

"When a cock has won his disposition changes. 

" A cock is called Cheyma when he chooses round 
grains of paddy, or fights with his shadow, or spurs or 
pecks at people. 

" The Malays believe in the influence of certain 
periods in the day over the breeds of cocks. They 
will not bet upon a bird with black plumage that is 
matched against one with yellow and white at the 
period Kutika Miswara ; nor against a black one set 

2 I 


to with a white one at the period Kutika Kala. 
Kutika Sri is favourable in this case for the white 
feathered bird. Kutika Brahma is propitious to a red 
cock matched against a light grey ; and Kutika Vishnu 
for a green cock. 1 

" I once witnessed a grand contest between two 
Malayan States at the breaking up of the Ramazan 
fast. Most of the cock-fighters presented themselves 
at the Golongan or cock-pit with a game-cock under 
each arm. The birds were not trimmed as in Eng- 
land, but fought in full feather. The spurs used on 
this occasion were about two and a half inches long, in 
shape like the blade of a scythe, and were sharpened 
on the spot by means of a fine whetstone ; large gashes 
were inflicted by these murderous instruments, and it 
rarely happened that both cocks survived the battle. 
Cocks of the same colour are seldom matched. The 
weight is adjusted by the setters-to passing them to 
and from each other's hands as they sit facing each 
other in the Golongan. Should there be any differ- 
ence, it is brought down to an equality by the spur 
being fixed so many scales higher on the leg of the 
heavier cock, or according to rules adverted to, as 
deemed fair by both parties. One spur only is used, 
and is generally fastened near the natural spur on the 
inside of the left leg. In adjusting these preliminaries 
the professional skill of the setters-to is called into 
action, and much time is taken up in grave delibera- 
tion, which often terminates in wrangling. The birds, 
after various methods of irritating them have been prac- 
tised, are then set to. During the continuance of the 
battle, the excitement and interest taken by the Malays 
in the barbarous exhibition is vividly depicted in their 

i Vide pp. 545-547. infra. 


animated looks and gestures everything they possess 
in the world being often staked on the issue. 

" The breed of cocks on the Peninsula more re- 
sembles the game-fowl of England than the large lanky 
breed known in Europe under the term ' Malay.' 
Great attention is paid by natives to the breed and 
feeding of game-cocks." l 


" Gambling of various descriptions, both with dice 
and with cards, is much in vogue. These, as well as 
the poe-table, have been introduced by the Chinese, 
who are even greater adepts than the Malays in all 
that relates to this pernicious vice. 

" Saparaga 2 is a game resembling football, played by 
ten or twenty youths and men, who stand in a circle, 
keeping up a hollow ratan ball in the air, which is 
passed to and fro by the action of the knees and feet 
the object being to prevent the ball from touching 
the ground ; it is frequently, however, taken at the 
rebound. The awkwardness of novices occasions 
great merriment. 

"The Sangheta 3 is a game implicating broken heads ; 
but, properly speaking, is a ' vi et armis ' mode of 
arbitration in matters of dispute between two Sukus or 
tribes. A certain number of men from each tribe turn 
out and pelt each other with sticks and logs of wood, 
until one of the parties gives in. The victors in this 
petty tourney are presumed to have the right on their 

" The Malays are remarkably attached to singing 

1 Newbold, Malacca, vol. ii. pp. 179-183. 

8 i.e. Sepak raga, which means "kick the wicker-work (ball)." 

3 Also Singketa. 


reciprocal Pantuns, stanzas comprising four alternate 
rhyming lines, of which notice has been taken else- 
where. Poetical contests in the Bucolic style are often 
carried on to a great length by means of Pantuns. To 
music Malays are passionately devoted, particularly to 
that of the violin. They evince a good ear, and great 
readiness in committing to memory even European 
airs. A voyage or journey of any length is seldom 
undertaken by the better classes without a minstrel. 

" Takki Takki l are riddles and enigmas, to the 
propounding and solving of which the females and edu- 
cated classes of the people are much inclined. 

" The games played by children are Tujoh Lobang," 
Punting, Chimpli, Kechil Krat, Kuboh, etc." : 

Of all minor games, top-spinning and kite-flying 
are perhaps the most popular. The kites are called 
layang-layang, which means a " swallow," but are 
sometimes of great size, one which was brought to 
me at Langat measuring some six feet in height by 
about seven feet between the tips of the wings. The 
peculiarity of the Malay kite is that it presents a 
convex, instead of a concave, surface to the wind, and 
that no "tail" is required, the kite being steadied by 
means of a beak which projects forward at the top 
of the framework. They are also usually provided 
with a thin, horizontal slip of bamboo (dengong) 
stretched tightly behind the beak, and which hums 
loudly in the wind. They are of a great number of 
different but well -recognised patterns, such as the 

1 Also T$ki-t?ki. Examples are, out of his own body?" Ans. "A 

"What is it which you leave behind spider." 

when you remember it, and take it with 2 i.e. " Tuju lobang" which means 

you when you forget it?" Ans. "A "Aim at the Hole." 

leech." " What is it that builds a house 3 Newbold, op. cit. vol. ii. pp. 183- 

within a house, getting the materials 185. 

\ i CHESS 485 

" Fighting Dragons " (Naga bZrjuang), the Crescent 
(Sakari bulan\ the Eagle (Rajawali), the Bird of 
Paradise (Ch$ndrawasih\ and so forth. A small 
kind of roughly-made kite is, as is well known, used 
at Singapore for fishing purposes, but I have never 
yet met with any instance of their being used ceremoni- 
ally, though it is quite certain that grown-ups will fly 
them with quite as much zest as children. 

Top-spinning, again, is a favourite pastime among 
the Malays, and is played by old and young of all 
ranks with the same eagerness. 1 The most usual form 
of top is not unlike the English pegtop, but has a 
shorter peg. It is spun in the same way and with the 
same object as our own pegtop, the object being to 
split the top of one's opponent. 

Teetotums are also used, and I have seen in 
Selangor a species of bamboo humming-top, but was 
told that it was copied from a humming-top used by 
the Chinese. 

" The game of chess, which has been introduced 
from Arabia, 2 is played in almost precisely the same 
manner as among Europeans, but the queen, instead 
of being placed upon her own colour, is stationed at 
the right hand of the king. In the Malay game the 
king, if he has not been checked, can be castled, but 
over one space only, not over two, as in the English 
game. The king may, also, before he is checked or 
moved from his own square, move once, like a knight, 
either to left or right, and he may also, if he has not 

1 " Yes, it's sweet While the country's bowling gaily 
... to grouse about the crops, down to hell." 

And sweet to hear the tales the Hugh Clifford (adapted from 

natives tell, Rudyard Kipling). 

To watch the king and chieftains 2 More probably India or Persia (?). 
playing leisurely at tops, 


moved or been checked, move once over two vacant 
squares instead of one." The following are the names 
of the pieces : 

1. Raja, the King. 

2. Mentri ("Minister"), the Queen. 

3. Ter or Tor, the Castle. 

4. Gajah (" Elephant "), the Bishop. 

5. Kuda (" Horse "), the Knight. 

6. Bidak, the Pawns. 1 

Main chongkak, again, is a game played with a 
board (papan chongkak] consisting of a boat-shaped 

In the top of this block (where the boat's deck 
would be) are sunk a double row of holes, the rows 
containing eight holes each, and two more holes are 
added, one at each end. Each of the eight holes 
(in both rows) is filled at starting with eight biiah 
gorek (the buah gorek being the fruit of a common 
tree, also called kelichi in Malacca). There are usually 
two players who pick the buah gorek out of the holes 
in turn, and deposit them in the next hole accord- 
ing to certain fixed rules of numerical combination, a 
solitary buah gorek, wherever it is found, being put 
back and compelled to recommence its journey down 
the board. 

A similar game is, I believe, known in many parts 
of the East, and was formerly much played even by 
Malay slaves, who used to make the double row of 
holes in the ground when no board was obtainable. 

The Malay game of Draughts (main dam) is 
played, I believe, in exactly the same manner as the 
English game. Backgammon (main tabat), on the 
other hand, is played in two different ways. 

1 Taken from Clifford and Swett., Mai. Diet., s.v. Chator. 

vi CARD GAMES 487 

The " Tiger " Game (main rimau\ or " Tiger and 
Goat " Game (main rimau kambing), is a game which 
has a distinct resemblance to our own "fox and 
goose," there being usually four tigers to a dozen of 
the goats. 


" Cards are called Kerf as sakopong. The Malays 
are fond of card games, but few Europeans have taken 
the trouble to understand or d